Tournaments : : Story
Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Venom lose, Mavs grab top seed

Jeff Dahn        
Photo: Perfect Game

FORT MYERS, Fla. – Sixteen teams will enter the playoffs of the 2011 Perfect Game 14u BCS Finals Wednesday morning with all eight games being played at the Boston Red Sox Player Development 5-Plex. None the 16 teams enter unbeaten.

Heading into Tuesday’s final day of pool-play games, only the Texas Venom had a shot at going into the playoffs undefeated after they went 5-0 over the first three days of pool-play.

The Venom won its first five pool-play games by a combined score of 50-30, and needed only to beat Raiders Baseball on Tuesday to be seeded No 1.  The Raiders spoiled that celebration by winning, 11-7, and the Venom dropped from the No. 1 seed to No. 3.

The Venom’s loss cleared the way for the Tifton Mavericks (5-1) to claim the No. 1 seed in the 16-team playoffs that kick-off Wednesday morning at the 5-Plex. There are four games scheduled for 9 a.m. and four more at 11:30 a.m. before the quarterfinal round begins at 2 p.m.

Hit ‘n Run (5-1) snagged the No. 2 seed, followed by the Venom (5-1). The East Cobb Titans (4-1-1) are the No. 4 seed with Meteors Baseball (4-1-1) No. 5. The Collegeville Pirates (4-2), Boca Thunder Baseball (4-2) and the Upstate Mavericks (3-2-1) round out the top-eight seeds.

Heading into Tuesday’s game against Raiders Baseball, it looked like the Texas Venom was going to stroll down the yellow brick road to the No. 1 seed without any trouble. The Raiders had lost all five of their previous pool-play games.

Venom head coach Dave Miles spoke before the contest and felt confident his players were up to the formidable challenge of winning six straight pool-play games.

 “It has been a good run, and I think it’s fortunate that we are pretty deep in pitching, and that’s kind of what’s carried us through,” Miles said. “We’ve played a lot of small-ball and our bats have been hot-and-cold, although I wouldn’t say they’ve been hot most of the time.”

When the bats cooled down, Miles had his players lay down a lot of bunts and steal a lot of bases in an attempt to generate runs. The approach seemed to have worked.

“We’re manufacturing a lot of runs,” Miles conceded.

The Venom made the most of the hits they produced on their way to a 5-0 record to start the Finals.

They scored 15 runs on eight hits in a win over the Cincinnati Astros; nine runs on 12 hits while beating the Upstart Mavericks; 13 runs on seven hits in a win over All-American Prospects 14u; seven runs on six hits in yet another win over the Dulins Dodgers; and, finally, six runs of four hits in their 6-5 win over the Atlanta Stars.

Raiders Baseball borrowed from that playbook in knocking off the Venom Tuesday afternoon. The Raiders scored their 11 runs on just five hits while taking advantage of eight walks from Venom pitchers and scoring four unearned runs.

Texas Venom opens the playoffs at 9 a.m. Wednesday against No. 14-seed East Cobb Braves 14u at Field 4 at the 5-Plex. Miles had a hunch his team would be in this position even before Tuesday’s loss.

“I felt we’re a real balanced group,” Miles said of his 12-man squad. “We’ve got enough pitching, we’ve got enough catchers, we have a solid outfield (and) we have a solid infield. I felt good about it, but you never know until you get here. The competition is tough.

 “I’ve got my 1, 2 and 3 pitchers ready to go on Wednesday,” he said. “We’re really strong and I’m really happy and we couldn’t have it set up any better. As long as we take care of business we should be OK.”

East Cobb Baseball out of Marietta, Ga., has three teams in the playoffs.

Here is a schedule of first round 14u BCS Finals playoff games, all to be played at the Red Sox 5-Plex:

9 a.m. – No. 16 Hit Dogs (3-2-1) vs. No. 1 Tifton Mavericks (5-1); No. 15 New York Grays (3-2-1) vs. No. Hit ‘n run (5-1); No. 14 East Cobb Braves 14u (4-2) vs. No. 3 Texas Venom (5-1); No. 13 Tampa Suns (4-2) vs. No. 4 East Cobb Titans 14u (4-1-1).

11:30 p.m. – No. 9 East Cobb Tigers 14u (4-2) vs. No. 8 Upstate Mavericks (3-2-1); No. 10 Homeplate Chili Dogs (4-2) vs. No. 7 Boca Thunder Baseball (4-2); No. 11 Palm Beach Panthers (4-2) vs. No. 6 Collegeville Pirates (4-2); No. 12 Gravel Baseball (4-2) vs. No. 5 Meteors Baseball (4-1-1).

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