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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

East Cobb Sweeps PG-EC Invite

Todd Gold         Ben Collman        
MARIETTA, GA-- The 2011 Perfect Game-East Cobb Invitational tournament boasted a very strong field of 128 top level teams from all over the country. In the inaugural edition of the event in 2010 Marucci flexed its muscle by winning titles in both the 17u/18u and 16u divisions. This year East Cobb one upped them by celebrating a championship in each age division on their home field.

The defending champion Florida Flash steamrolled through pool play, scoring the most runs (28) and allowing the fewest (1) of anyone in the 48 team field to earn the top playoff seed and a first round bye. With good hitting up and down the lineup and possibly the best pitching staff in the tournament fronted by Most Valuable Pitcher Nick Gordon, the Flash knocked off a pair of very talented teams in the playoffs in the Knoxville Thunder and Georgia Stars to make a return trip to the championship game.

The East Cobb Longhorns also swept through pool play to earn a bye. After opening with a pair of double digit run rule victories the Longhorns turned into the cardiac kids, winning their final pool play game 7-5 before pulling out a pair of hard fought 5-4 games against Ohio Elite and the ABA Braves in the playoffs to earn a berth in the title game.

In the championship game the Longhorns scored a pair of runs right off the bat and Ty Cohen made the lead stand up, going the distance and scattering 4 hits while striking out 12 (1 BB) to knock off the defending champs 2-1. Henry Rowling was named tournament Most Valuable Player after going 4-for-9 in the playoffs and driving in 10 Runs.


East Cobb had perhaps its strongest showing in the 16u division, with the EC Yankees and EC Astros earning the top two seeds in the tournament. The Yankees opened pool play by knocking off the defending champions Marucci Elite 4-2 before sweeping the pool and earning the first round bye. After a 10-1 win in the 2nd round of the playoffs the Yankees ran into the South Carolina Shockwave for what turned out to be the most exciting game of the tournament in the semi-final.

After 7 innings the score was knotted up at 2-2, and it turned out there was still plenty of baseball left to be played. After an uneventful 8th the Shockwave got a pair of runners into scoring position in the 9th before Avery Hart lined out to end the inning. Finally in the 11th inning the Shockwave converted an oportunity as JD Waite drove in what proved to be the winning run and Jordan Gore closed it out as SC shocked the top seeded Yankees to earn a trip to the championship.

The Astros faced their first tough test in the semi-finals when they found themselves locked up in a pitchers duel with Top Notch (SC Heat). Matthew Williams slowed down the Astros' prolific offense, limiting them to 2 runs on 5 hits while striking out 6 in a complete game effort. But Reed Scott was even better, scattering 3 hits and walking just one in a 9 strikeout complete game victory to carry the Astros into the championship.

The championship game was an exciting back and forth battle that saw the Astros take a one run lead, only to relinquish it the following inning on three separate occasions. After East Cobb went up 4-3 in the bottom of the 6th it looked like the Shockwave would continue to answer in the 7th after a leadoff walk was followed by an error, then a wild pitch gave them runners on 2nd and 3rd and one out. Jordan Gore came to the plate with a chance to put his team ahead, Gore got a pitch to drive and smoked a liner up the middle...only to find the glove of the shortstop who flipped to second for a game ending double play to secure a championship for the EC Astros 15u.

Jamie Callahan
of the SC Shockwave earned Most Valuable Pitcher of the tournament with a dominant 14 K complete game win over a talented Homeplate Chillidogs with a fastball that sat 89-92 mph. Astros MIF Wade Bailey took home MVP honors, going 9-for-18 with a Home Run and 4 SBs and looked impressive as a 2014 prospect playing up a level.

The East Cobb Braves 17u faced some long odds heading into the playoffs, without the benefit of a first round bye and short on pitching the Braves hitters needed to step up. And that they did, piling up 29 runs in their three playoff games to earn a spot in the championship game. Team Alabama also head to play a first round game and had to go through defending champion Marucci Elite (a gritty 4-2 victory) as part of their difficult road to the championship.

In the championship the Braves got on the board first in the 3rd inning and put up a three run inning capped by a 2-run double by SS Matt Gonzalez (who went 2-for-3 on the game). Team Alabama scored a run in the 6th and with a runner in scoring position brought 3-hole hitter Nick Masonia to the plate representing the tying run with two outs. Reliever Matt Crownover induced an inning ending ground ball to escape the threat and then shut the door in the 7th to nail down the Save.

Braves OF Skye Bolt was named tournament MVP after crushing a pair of Home Runs, scoring 7 Runs and driving in 9. Teammate David Sosebee earned tournament Most Valuable Pitcher honors after limiting a very talented Excel Blue Wave lineup to just one run while striking out 12 in a playoff game.

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