Tournaments : : Story
Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Canes dominating at WWBA 16u

Matthew Stokes        
Photo: Perfect Game

MARIETTA, Ga. – The Evoshield Canes (4-0) used an eight-run inning and solid pitching to run-rule the Florida Hardballers 16u Black (2-2) 10-0 in just five innings in a Monday afternoon pool S matchup at the 2012 WWBA 16u National Championship.

Justin Bellinger (2014, St. Sebastian’s School, Mass.) delivered the major blow, blasting a grand slam to left-center off right-hander Jake Thompson (2015, Buchholz H.S., Fla.) to cap an eight-run second for the Canes.

Bellinger, who verbally committed to Vanderbilt University shortly after his freshman season began at St. Sebastian’s in 2011, fouled off a pitch before unloading on Thompson’s offering high in the strike zone. The left-handed hitter, who plays first base as well as seeing time on the mound as a left-handed pitcher, already is listed at six-foot-six, 226 pounds.

He attended the Junior National Showcase last month in Minneapolis, Minn., and earned high marks from the likes of David Rawnsley, Perfect Game’s National Director of Scouting. Rawnsley said Bellinger’s power “comes very easily” and that he “has a very good idea and approach” at the plate.

Perfect Game ranks the Massachusetts product as number 13 in the high school class of 2014 as well as its number one first baseman.

Justin’s just a freakish 16-year-old,” said Evoshield Canes head coach Jeff Petty after the victory. “He’s got power at the plate obviously. I think he has a chance to be an extremely high-level draft pick out of high school.”

Bellinger, who describes himself as a power hitter, said Vanderbilt’s baseball program stood out to him.

Their coaching staff is the best in the country in my opinion,” said Bellinger, who also visited University of Virginia before pledging to Vanderbilt.

In spite of his verbal commitment, Bellinger said he has looked at programs like Georgia Tech, University of Miami (Fla.) and Stanford University.

I still have my options open,” said Bellinger of the state of his recruitment.

On a team that has surrendered no runs through four games and 19 innings, 
Bellinger is far from the only standout player on the Canes.

On this team alone, I think we have 10 or more guys committed to college,” said Petty, who serves as the organization’s general manager and owner. “I think in the draft in June we had 18 guys that played in our organization at one time or another get picked.”

As far as the class of 2013, outfielder Jake Fraley (2013, Red Lion Christian Academy, Del.) looks to have a promising future ahead of him. Perfect Game pegged Fraley as the nation’s number 71 player in the high school class of 2013 after he attended last month’s National Showcase, also in Minneapolis.

It was great,” said Fraley of the National Showcase. “It’s really good for a position player because you get to feel out what the best pitching in the country is for a couple of days.”

Fraley, who has been with the Canes since the fall of 2010, has left a favorable impression on many a coach and others with his play.

He plays as hard as he can all the time,” said Petty of the centerfielder. “A scout was complementing him the other day. We were beating some team last week by 12 runs, and he was legging out a hustle double. It was 100 degrees outside. He just never takes a pitch off. He’s got a great arm, he can run and is showing some signs of power.”

The six-foot-one, 185-pound athlete gave his verbal commitment to Louisiana State University in the fall of 2011. He also considered University of North Carolina, University of South Carolina and University of Maryland.

Every single time I’ve gone up in a level of baseball, I’ve always had that certain coach that I’ve clicked with and who has taught me a lot,” Fraley said. “I went to LSU, got to talk with the coaches one-on-one and I just knew it was the right spot.”

Joining Bellinger in the Canes’ class of 2014 are third baseman Charlie Cody (2014, Great Bridge H.S., Va.) and shortstop Jack Gerstenmaier (2014, Douglas S. Freeman H.S., Va.).

They both run really well. They have great baseball instincts,” said Petty of the left side of the Canes’ infield. “Great defenders. Go-getters and they don’t take anything for granted or anything lightly. They play hard all the time.”

Cody, a starter at third base as a freshman on Great Bridge’s 2011 state championship team, described himself as athletic, fast and versatile. He verbally committed to Virginia last month.

I really felt like I fit in there,” said Cody of Virginia. “I really liked the coaches and the atmosphere. And they obviously have a great baseball program, and their academics are very good.”

Cody also considered North Carolina, Vanderbilt and Miami among others.

The six-foot-one, 180-pound infielder attended the Junior National Showcase last month, and ranks as Perfect Game’s number 131 high school class of 2014 player.

I was very impressed with that and had a good time there at the Metrodome,” said Cody of the Junior National.

Last but not least there is Gerstenmaier, who began his Canes career in the fall of 2010.

It’s just a great organization and a lot of exposure,” said the six-foot-one, 188-pound infielder. “I went to a tryout in 2010 and it went well.”

Gerstenmaier also verbally pledged to Virginia last month. In addition, he considered North Carolina and South Carolina.

With the likes of Bellinger, Fraley, Cody and Gerstenmaier among others, it is easy to see why the Canes have yet to lose or allow a run yet in this tournament.

We’ve played sound defense, and like I said we’re not taking anybody lightly,” said Petty of the team’s play in this event. “Our guys understand that down here you can get beat at any given time. If you take a pitch off, that can cause you to lose down here. All the top players in the country are here right now in this age bracket.”

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