Tournaments | Story | 6/26/2015

East Coast Sox Prime win it all

Chris Garcia        
Photo: Perfect Game

EMERSON, Ga. – The 2015 14u WWBA National Championship came to an exciting close today, as the four teams left standing duked it out for a spot in the championship game. These semifinal games included the Nos. 1, 2, 3 and 4 seeds of the tournament; so if you made it out to the LakePoint complex in Emerson on this fine Friday morning, you were guaranteed to see some quality baseball.

The EvoShield Seminoles, who were the favorite to win it all, came into their semifinal hoping to display the same hot offense that they have been displaying all tournament, but this particular game had a slow start by the Seminoles’ standards. They put up three runs in the third inning, and it was a close game up until the sixth, where they would score another three runs and put the game away for good. In that sixth inning, the Seminoles showed they had serious hustle down the baseline with two infield hits to help score the runs that they so dearly needed. The final score would end up being 6-1, and the No. 1 seed Seminoles would now set their sights on a National Championship title.

The East Coast Sox Prime, the No. 3 seed, shut out the Banditos 9-0 in their semifinal game. The Banditos, who looked to have been a formidable opponent and displayed a prolific offense almost equal to the Seminoles, were simply overwhelmed by the Sox’s powerful offense and simply could not get anything going against Sox starter, Christopher Willis. Willis went the distance and only allowed two hits.

With the stage finally set for a championship game, many spectators throughout the LakePoint complex felt that the matchup between the Seminoles and the Sox was going to be a close yet high-scoring affair. They were right about the high scoring, but the close part? Not so much.

The Sox put on a hitting performance for the ages in this game, and the Seminoles’ bats went cold at a very inopportune time. Late in this tournament, a lot of games were decided by who got their offense rolling early, and if you weren’t the one to draw blood first, then chances were that things could get out of hand very fast. Offenses had a tendency to turn small innings into big innings very quickly, and that was certainly the case in today’s championship game.

The first inning of this game was quiet, but the innings that followed would bring an onslaught of runs from the Sox. The top of the second inning is when the Sox got the party started, scoring two runs off of a string of base hits. Even early in the game, you could tell that both teams were very well coached, as the players were showing high baseball IQ in certain situations.

The Sox are a team that plays great situational baseball, and they showed how unselfish they were as a team by way of sacrificing their own at-bats for the good of the team. Regardless of how hot their bats were this game, whenever a bunt was called for, they laid it down with enthusiasm.

Not only were their bats sound, but the Sox also played stellar defense. Turning two was easy for the Sox today, and their pitcher, Garrett Alliston, was virtually untouchable. Alliston only allowed one hit, and was able to locate every pitch on Friday. A big performance from Alliston was what the Sox wanted, and they got it.

As the game continued, the Sox would only get better at the plate. The third and fourth innings included some of the most impressive hitting that this tournament has ever seen, as they put up 13 runs with base hit after base hit. These two innings turned out to be nightmarish for the Seminoles, and everything that could have gone wrong, went wrong. From errors, to balks, to the Sox simply finding every hole possible, the Seminoles could not catch a break. Everything the Sox hit was hard and straight; there was rarely anything in the air, and if it was hit in the air, you’d best believe it’s going to bounce off the fence.

The Sox finished the game with a whopping 18 base hits.

Those two innings would mark the end of the game, as the Seminoles could not muster up the runs needed to avoid a run rule. They would fall to the Sox by the score of 15-0 after just four innings.

The Seminoles have a lot to be proud of this tournament, considering their performance in every game besides the championship. They played great baseball through and through and displayed class when they were on and off the field. The Most Valuable Pitcher award was handed to the Seminoles’ ace of the week, Eli Weisner. Weisner was Mr. Reliable for the Seminoles this week, and his stat line was quite impressive. He finished with nine innings pitched, eight strikeouts, and only one run allowed.

In my start, I really focused on throwing first pitch strikes and getting ahead,” Weisner exclaimed. “I knew the competition would be good, so if I got behind, things would have been tougher for me. I had to let them hit the ball, seeing as we were using wood bats. Our defense was great this week, and our patience at the plate was just as good. Everyone played their role.”

The Sox’ shining star of the week was Christopher Willis. Willis played a big part in the semis with his stellar start, but he also had a large contribution from every other aspect of the game. This week Willis hit .382, with two home runs, 16 RBI and eight runs scored. As you can see from the run production, Willis was a key component to the Sox’s championship run.

Like our Coach said, if we pitch and play defense, we can win any game,” said Willis, who was named the event's Most Valuable Player. “At the plate, I just wanted to put it in play and force the defense to make a play. Our team mentality was just to stay relaxed and within ourselves. To us, this tournament win is just another win.”

Willis may feel that this is just another win, and maybe that’s what makes this team so special. Their ability to downplay a big game and treat it as a normal game probably helped them to calm the nerves and play to their full potential. They certainly dominated in this championship game, and Coach Chris Snopek is thrilled that his boys played their best baseball all the way to the end.

We had good pitching and good defense. We executed on offense, but really our pitching and defense was key,” Coach Snopek said. “We knew to expect good competition, and we wanted to take every inning as its own. Obviously, with the wood bats we wanted to play small ball and move runners over.

This is one of the top tournaments to win, and is probably the highlight of our summer. What this means is that we have one of the top teams in the country, and that will help our confidence for the rest of the summer.”

2015 14u WWBA National Championship runnerup: EvoShield Seminoles 14u

2015 14u WWBA National Championship MVP: Chirstopher Willis

2014 14u WWBA National Championship MV-Pitcher: Eli Weisner

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