Tournaments | Story | 8/31/2012

Classics welcome in fall season

Jeff Dahn        
Photo: Perfect Game

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Summer met fall and became one on the 2012 Perfect Game tournament schedule the last two weekends when the PG WWBA Northeast Qualifier #1 was held Aug. 17-20 in and around Sicklerville, N.J., and the first leg of the PG Iowa Select Invitational was held Aug. 24-26 in and around Iowa City, Iowa.

Those two events opened the door into the month of September when this Gulf Coast city -- recently spared from Hurricane Isaac -- will host the second annual PG WWBA 18u Labor Day Classic and the PG WWBA 16u Labor Day Classic Saturday (Sept. 1) through Monday (Sept. 3) with Terry Park serving as tournament headquarters.

While Terry Park is identified as the headquarters for both events, games will also be played at the former Boston Red Sox Spring Training 5-Plex; the JetBlue Player Development Complex (the Red Sox's new spring training home); and City of Palms Park.

The 18u Labor Day Classic semifinals are scheduled for Sunday at 2:30 p.m. (EDT) at Terry Park; 16u semifinals will also be played Sunday at 2:30 p.m., but at JetBlue. The 16u and 18u championships games will be played on Monday at 9 a.m. and 11:30 a.m., respectively, both at the futuristic and stylish main stadium, dubbed "Fenway South," at the JetBlue Player Development Complex.

The expected PG WWBA 18u Labor Day Classic field does not include 2011 champion Cannons Baseball. The PG WWBA 16u Labor Day Classic field is also void of a defending champion.

A variation of the hometown favorite SWFL Underclass won the PG WWBA 16u East Memorial Day Classic in Fort Myers in late May and a new team flying the same banner will be on hand to try to capture the Labor Day version. SWFL 16u also won the 16u PG BCS Finals national championship in July.

FTB Pride was the champion at the PG WWBA 18u Memorial Day Classic, and is one of three FTB teams entered in the 18u Labor Day Classic (Royal and White are the other FTB entrants).

The Pride roster is stacked for this weekend's 18u Classic, with six NCAA Division I commitments from players in the classes of 2013 and '14, including RHP/1B Brandon Lawson (2013, Spring Hill, Fla.)  and SS/C Andres Leal (2013, Tampa, Fla.) both of whom are committed to South Florida.

Outfielder Eugene Vazquez (2013, Orlando, Fla.) is the nation's 120th-ranked prospect and has committed to Central Florida and RHP Joseph Starling (2013, Bartow, Fla.), ranked 188th, is committed to Stanford. Two of the country's top 2014s -- 1B/RHP Bradley Zunica (Bradenton, Fla.), ranked No. 79 and committed to Miami, and RHP Cre Finfrock (Jensen Beach, Fla.), ranked No. 81 and committed to UCF -- are also on the Pride's roster.

There are also six Puerto Rican prospects on the roster, including 2014 OF Luis Alvarado (Salinas, P.R.) the top-ranked Puerto Rican in our class. The Puerto Rican-based PR Mets features an entirely Puerto Rican roster, including Penn State commit Sergio Figueroa.

The two Labor Day Classics kick off the Perfect Game fall season which culminates with three big events in October. Many powerhouse 18u and 17u squads are being steadfastly assembled for the PG WWBA World Championship Oct. 25-29 in Jupiter, Fla., and younger age-group teams are being put together for the PG WWBA Underclass World Championship Oct. 4-8 in Fort Myers.

The PG WWBA Florida Qualifier -- the champion earns a spot at the PG WWBA World Championship -- is scheduled for Oct. 12-15 in Fort Myers.

Five other tournaments immediately follow the Labor Day events in the month of September: PG WWBA Northeast Qualifier #2 (Sept, 8-10, Yaphank, N.Y.); Perfect Game/EvoShield National Championship-Upperclass (Sept. 14-17, Phoenix); PG WWBA South Qualifier (Sept. 14-17, Houston); PG WWBA Kernels Foundation Championship (Sept. 14-17, Cedar Rapids, Iowa), and the Perfect Game/EvoShield National Championship-Underclass (Sept. 21-24, Phoenix).

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