2004 WWBA 04 Grads/18U National Championship

 

Championship Game Summary

 

The two-time defending champion Florida Bombers didnít make the 16 team championship playoff round.  Nor did the East Cobb Astros, the 2003 WWBA World Champions from Jupiter and one of the most decorated and talented teams in recent years.  Nor did perennial powerhouse Team Florida USA.

 

The Midland Redskins, probably the most physically talented squad put together this summer, had to overcome a 10-0 loss in the first game of the tournament to squeeze into championship play at the last moment.

 

So it was only fitting that a Cinderella club, the Diamond Devils 18ís from South Carolina, would fly under the radar from the 15th seed position to claim the 2004 World Wood Bat Association 18U National Championship, defeating the East Cobb Braves 17U team in the finals Sunday afternoon, 4-3.

 

The Diamond Devils finished pool play with a 3-0-2 record and qualified for championship round play as the second of three wildcard teams.  They defeated two Louisiana teams, the Louisiana Legends and Louisiana All Star Baseball by identical 5-1 scores at the start of the playoffs before edging the Midland Redskins in a 7-6 thriller in the semifinals.

 

The Diamond Devils didnít have the deepest pitching staff of the 76 teams in the tournament, but received excellent efforts from starters Craig Thomas and Mike Cisco.  Thomas went 1-0-1 with two complete game efforts, including a 1-hit shutout that he only managed a tie from.  Cisco finished 2-0, allowing only 1 run in his two starts.

 

Thomas, a lefthander, struck out 19 hitters in 14 innings while allowing only 5 hits and was named the eventís Most Valuable Pitcher.

 

The Championship Game started out as a pitcherís dual between the Diamond Devils starter Matt Wieters and East Cobbís Tyler Musselwhite.  A double off the top of the right field wall by Wieters leading off the 6th inning keyed a 3 run rally that broke open a 1-1 ball game and a later East Cobb rally fell short.

 

Wieters, who will be attending Georgia Tech this fall, was named the co-Most Valuable Player for his efforts both on the mound, in the batters box and behind the plate catching.  He saved two games before the championship game, including the semifinal win over Midland, while showing a 94 mph fastball, then pitched four solid innings in the championship game.  Wieters finished 10-25 (.400) at the plate, including 3-3 with 3 Rbiís in the semifinal win.

 

Wieters shared MVP honors with Midlandís CF Cameron Maybin.  Maybinís physical tools continue to amaze scouts looking forward to the 2005 draft, as he ran as low as 3.95 to first base during the championship and also crushed a 425 to 450 foot home run well into the East Cobb Complex parking lot against the Diamond Devils in the semifinals.  Maybin finished the tournament 9-21 with 5 extra base hits, 10 runs scored and 9 runs batted in.

 

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