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Tournaments | Story | 7/19/2021

East Coast Sox Perfect So Far in Atlanta

Matthew Welsh        
Photo: Owen Egan (Perfect Game)
MARIETTA, Ga. -- The East Coast Sox added to their perfect WWBA National Championship run on Sunday afternoon after beating the Richmond Braves, 6-4, at the East Cobb Baseball Complex. The Sox are currently 5-0 in pool play with one game still to play, with bracket play looming on the horizon. 
 
“It feels good because we have a good team, and we’ve been struggling a little bit to start the games, but we’re coming out with a win in every game, so it’s nice,” said infielder RJ Hamilton
 
But an electric start was no problem for the Columbus, Miss.-based squad on Sunday. East Coast jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning after two runs were walked home. Casey Borba, the Sox’ third hitter of the inning, reached on a single and was walked in three batters later, as was TJ Dunsford, who followed fourth pitches later.
 
The Sox extended their lead in the bottom of the second with three additional insurance runs, after again taking advantage of pitching inconsistencies. After two walks to begin the frame, Hamilton tripled home both runners and scored one pitch later on a single from two-hole hitter Owen Egan
 
Exiting the fifth, East Coast stacked another lone run, to bring the score to 6-1 with only two innings to go. Even a three-run top of the sixth for the Braves wasn’t enough to overcome the Sox hot start. 
 
Kade Anderson entered in the frame in a bases-loaded, two-out jam and after conceding one run, finished the Richmond scoring threat with a four-pitch strikeout. 
 
“We showed that we can just continue to battle and push through this thing to try and get to the bracket,” said Anderson. “We have a chemistry that can’t compare to everyone else, and always will continue to battle and want to win.”
 
Saturday’s win was the slimmest of the tournament for the Sox, in a week that includes earlier 12-0 and 9-3 victories. But the team said that their roster not only gives them strength against the opposition, but also in competing from within. 
 
“Every day you have to bring your ‘A’ game because the man behind you is just as good as you, so it’s a good thing to just push everybody,” Hamilton said. 
 
All but seven of East Coast’s 23-man crew are ranked in the top-500 in the country, including 2023’s No. 1 overall player, Derek Curiel, 25th overall in Anderson and 30th overall in Egan. And even though the players span six different states, the on-field product resembles that of a team who have played together for years, not months.

That bond - a tested one - is evidence to just the sheer confidence that the team brings to the field on a daily basis. To be the best, you have to prove yourself against other top-flight clubs, and the Sox are here in Atlanta to do just that. 
 
“We aren’t scared to play anyone,” said Borba. “We have just as much talent as anyone else that we play. We really all just focus on playing the game and not the opponent.”
 
As of Saturday, East Coast’s undefeated mark and +30 run differential has them tied for first place in pool ZZ of the tournament. The team controls their own destiny and path to the playoffs, with a matchup against fellow pool leaders, Excel Blue Wave, waiting in the distance. 
 
But for now, East Coast will continue to focus on their own play and determination, a mindset that has proven overwhelmingly profitable to this point in the summer’s largest 16u tournament.
 
“That is a huge thing for us,” Hamilton said. “With us being undefeated right now, it’s big for us to just keep that momentum into our next game and into bracket play.”
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