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Tournaments | Story | 10/2/2014

Qualifiers highlight busy weekend

Matt Rodriguez        

Two Perfect Game WWBA qualifying tournaments are scheduled to be played in Florida and Georgia this weekend, with the champion at each event receiving a paid invitation to the prestigious PG WWBA World Championship in Jupiter, Fla., Oct. 23-27.

Battle for a bid set at WWBA National Qualifier

EMERSON, Ga. – Perfect Game Park South at LakePoint will host its final qualifying event of the fall this weekend, which represents the final opportunity for teams to earn an automatic paid invitation to the prestigious WWBA World Championship in Jupiter, Fla. at the end of October.

This weekend’s WWBA National Qualifier begins Friday evening and will wrap up on Sunday with all playoff games and the championship game hosted at the state-of-the-art Perfect Game Park South at LakePoint.

Seven locations will host the 44 participating teams hailing from nine different states as far south as Florida and as far north as Illinois over the course of the three-day tournament. The 44 teams are split up into 11 pools of four teams, with the winner of each pool advancing to the playoffs starting Sunday.

The usual suspects look to stay competitive in this weekend’s event, with Team Elite, East Cobb Baseball, the Georgia Jackets, and the Homplate Chili Dogs all bringing highly-ranked prospects to the event.

East Cobb Baseball (Astros) will make the short trip to LakePoint once again for this weekend’s qualifier with six prospects ranked in the Top 200 for their respective class. Anchored by shortstop Jalen Miller (2015, No. 41), the Astros bring outfielder Reggie Pruitt (2015, No. 110), right-handed pitcher Brock Love (2015, No. 118), catcher Cody Roberts (2015, No. 148), left-handed pitcher Nick Bush (2015, No. 177), and first baseman Thomas Johns (2016, No. 102).

Team Elite 16’s Prime looks to follow up their fellow Team Elite 18’s Prime with a tournament win after the 18’s won the WWBA Southeast Qualifier #1 early in September. With a young roster loaded with talented 2017’s, it will be a challenge, but not a surprise to see them make a playoff run. Led by outfielder Darius Foster (2017, No. 62), the talented roster includes outfielder Sam Hall (2017, No. 104), first baseman Beau Hanna (2017, No. 129), outfielder Pat DeMarco (2017, No. 141), shortstop Oscar Serratos (2017, No. 153), and third baseman Tyler Keenan (2017, No. 163).

Fellow Team Elite 17’s Prime brings a competitive roster to the tournament. They are paced by left-handed pitcher Jonathan Gettys (2016, No. 20), shortstop Cam Shepherd (2016, No. 51), twins Austin Wilhite (2016, No. 130) and Nick Wilhite (2016, No. 131), and shortstop Aaron Schunk (2016, No. 172). It wouldn’t be a shock if we saw at least two Team Elite teams in the playoff bracket.

The Georgia Jackets look to carry their incredibly successful summer with them into the fall. Anchored by a pair of Top 25 2017’s in outfielder Jason Rooks (No. 12) and first baseman Chaney Rogers (No. 24), their roster also boasts catcher Will Lumpkin (2016, No. 163) and left-handed pitcher Austin Weiermiller (2017, No. 196).

The HP Chili Dogs Maldonado bring with them perhaps the most lethal duo in 2014 Perfect Game All-Americans Cornelius Randolph (2015, No. 15) and Tristin English (2015, No. 40). Look for them to make a run to the playoffs like they were able to do consistently this summer.

Other elite prospects in attendance will be GBSA Rays shortstop Tekwaan Whyte (2015, No. 91), TGBA Blue Borcherding outfielder Tucker Maxwell (2016, No. 113), Upstate Mavericks shortstop Gabriel Holt (2017, No. 56), and Team Carolina third baseman Cameron Bare (2017, No. 135).

WWBA Florida Qualifier the last chance for Jupiter bid

Fort Myers, Fla. will play host to this weekend’s WWBA Florida Qualifier, which gets underway Friday and will conclude Monday with a championship game at Terry Park that will determine the final winner of an automatic paid invitation to the prestigious WWBA World Championship at the end of October.

Last year’s tournament champions, Sarasota Baseball Club, return to the Fort Myers area looking to defend their title and earn another trip to Jupiter, Fla. They bring with them a few highly ranked prospects in Florida commit Nick Long and University of North Carolina commit Jordan Gubelman.

However, Sarasota Baseball Club will have 82 other teams to compete with for this year’s tournament title, including 76 teams from Florida. The qualifier will see teams from New Jersey, Minnesota, and Texas, as well as three teams from Puerto Rico and a team from Ontario, Canada.

The Elite Squad Baseball program brings a pair of high-powered teams to the tournament. Elite Squad Prime has a plethora of elite players, led by 2014 Perfect Game All-Americans Daniel Reyes (2015, No. 9) and Elih Marrero (2015, No. 64). They also boast shortstop Lucius Fox Jr. (2015, No. 54), third baseman Julian Infante (2015, No. 78), catcher Dominic DiCaprio (2015, No. 125), and right-handed pitcher Isaiah Musa (2015, No. 174), as well as elite 2016’s right-handed pitcher Anthony Molina (No. 6) and right-handed pitcher Gregory Veliz (No. 10).

Elite Squad 16u Prime looks to compete for a title, as well. Despite their youth, the ultra-talented roster has what it takes to go the distance. Left-handed pitcher Jesus Luzardo (No. 78) and shortstop Colton Welker (No. 132) are the 2016’s that anchor the roster, while first baseman Alejandro Toral (No. 6), catcher Zach Jackson (No. 20), and third baseman Joseph Perez (No. 21) represent the elite 2017’s.

IMG Academy Black is another team to watch, with several high-ranking D-I commits littering the roster. Shortstop Logan “LT” Tolbert (2015, No. 76) leads the way, followed by left-handed pitcher Logan Allen (2015, No. 82), outfielder Danny Blair (2015, No. 95), third baseman Ryan Karstetter (2015, No. 140), outfielder Eric Feliz (2015, No. 167), right-handed pitcher Anthony Holubecki (2016, No. 36), and shortstop Nick Derr (2016, No. 114).

Florida Burn, winners of last October’s WWBA World Championship, sends a competitive Florida Burn 2016 Pennant team to Fort Myers, with 2016’s right-handed pitcher Austin Bergner (No. 2), third baseman Rylan Thomas (No. 82), and right-handed pitcher Brian Brown (No. 83). A pair of 2017’s in left-handed pitcher Jordan Butler (No. 11) and shortstop Shane Shifflett (No. 57) gives the roster premier youth talent.

Don’t sleep on FTB Rawlings 17u, either. They bring a couple of highly ranked 2015’s with them in first baseman Jason Heinrich (No. 111), left-handed pitcher Sixto Torres (No. 142), and outfielder Yasin Chentouf (No. 197).

Other prospects to watch include catcher Herbert Iser (2016, No. 4) and shortstop Freddie Zamora (2017, No. 17) of the Florida Legends, shortstop Bo Bichette (2016, No. 26) and right-handed pitcher Tyler Keysor (2016, No. 87) of FTB Max Bats 16u, right-handed pitcher Altoon Coleman (2017, No. 4) and catcher Mervyl “MJ” Melendez (2017, No. 35) of MBA Pride Elite, outfielder Keenan Bell (2016, No. 75) of the Jacksonville Warriors, and right-handed pitcher Conor Grady (2017, No. 55) of Ostingers Baseball Academy 17u.

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