Tournaments : : Story
Monday, August 03, 2009

Weary Austin Braves Win Premier Baseball Title

Jim Ecker        
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. -- You don't need much sleep when you're 16 years old and love to play baseball.
 
The Austin Slam Braves proved that Sunday by winning the Premier Baseball Sophomore Championship with little rest and lots of heart.
 
The Braves dunked the Texas Stix, 11-2, in the championship game at Baum Stadium at the University of Arkansas, beating their fellow Texans by the Mercy Rule in five innings to cap a string of nine straight victories in five days.
 
The Braves won three games on Saturday, and their third and final game that day did not start until 10:30 p.m. due to rain that played havoc with everyone's schedule. The Braves didn't get to bed until about 1:30 or 2 a.m. on Sunday, and the wakeup call came quickly at 6:30 a.m. because the semifinals began at 9 a.m.
 
At best, they got five hours sleep.
 
"Maybe five hours," said Austin third baseball Tyler Wilson, who a big day for the Braves on Sunday. "I was pretty tired. I still wanted to play, but I was really beat."
 
Wilson (Vista Ridge H.S., 2011) didn't show much fatigue on Sunday. He went 3-for-4 with two doubles and two RBIs as the Braves beat the Dallas Patriots, 8-7, in the semifinals, and then he went 3-for-3 with two more doubles and an RBI in the championship game against the Stix. All told, he was 6-for-7 with six straight hits, four doubles and three RBIs.
 
"I feel awesome right now," he said. "I feel more awake than I was this morning."
 
The Stix also had a short night on Saturday. Their final game on Saturday night did not end until about 1:30 a.m. on Sunday, and they had to play in the semifinals at noon on short rest. The Stix topped the Houston Heat Silver, 10-2, to make the finals.
 
The Braves, who draw their players from central Texas, got a solid pitching performance in the finals from Joe Whelan, a 5-foot-11, 150-pound left-hander from Round Rock (2011). He tossed four scoreless innings as the Braves built an 11-0 lead, then was touched for two harmless runs in the bottom of the fifth.
 
"I didn't even know I was going to start this game," he said. "They told me in the middle of the last game, if we win, I'll start. That was OK with me."
 
When you talk about a pitcher throwing on short rest, it literally applied to Whelan on Sunday. He got very little sleep Saturday night. "Four hours, probably," he said. It didn't seem to bother him, just like it didn't bother his teammates.
 
Jordan Wade, a 6-4, 236-pound slugger from Stony Point (2011), socked a bases-loaded double to deep right-center in the third inning to drive in two runs and give the Braves a 6-0 lead. "I thought for a second it was out, but it hit the wall," he said.
 
Wade went 3-for-6 in two games Sunday and had a game-winning sacrifice fly in the 8-7 win over the Dallas Patriots. He'll play a few more games for the Braves this week, then he'll report to football practice on Monday, Aug. 10, as a defensive tackle.
 
The Braves won the 16U state crown in Texas a few weeks ago, but Coach Austin Boggs said the Premier Baseball title is their biggest of the summer.
 
"I'm proud of them," he said. "It was a lot of fun.
 
"A long week, a real long week," he said with a weary smile. "We had nine games in five days. I'm tired."
 
Boggs played college baseball at Texas A&M and Sam Houston. His father, Tommy Boggs, pitched in the major leagues and is the director of the Austin Slams baseball program. Austin Boggs was born in 1984 and Tommy Boggs retired in 1986, so Austin didn't get a chance to grow up in a big-league clubhouse or watch his father pitch.
 
"All I've seen are tapes," he said.
 
Tommy Boggs congratulated his son and the entire team on a job well done on Sunday. They've got the pictures, and the tape, to prove it.
 
Now they can rest.  
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