Tournaments : : Story
Monday, September 30, 2013

St. Louis Gamers 17u win Kernels

Patrick Ebert        
Photo: Perfect Game

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa – The St. Louis Gamers 17u team won the 12th annual WWBA Kernels Foundation Championship with a 7-0 victory over the Illinois Indians – TRIBE. With the victory, the Gamers earn a paid invitation to compete at the WWBA World Championship to be held October 24-28 in Jupiter, Fla.

The Gamers won on the strength of two lefthanded brothers that were named the event's co-Most Valuable Pitchers, Michael and Mitchell Plassmeyer. The younger Plassmeyer, Michael, tossed a complete game 1-0 shutout in the team's semifinal win over Hitters Baseball earlier in the day to propel the Gamers into the championship game, where Mitchell provided five more shutout frames.

Michael and Mitchell also delivered victories for the Gamers on Saturday, each allowing only one run in five innings.

It felt really good,” Michael Plassmeyer said after securing the Kernels Foundation Championship. “Everything seemed to be working (with the) defense making the plays, got all of the outs, (I) didn't have to throw a lot of pitches, so that was nice.”

We really did well as a team,” added Mitchell. “Everybody worked together well, the defense did great (and) everybody hit.”

The Gamers used three big innings – two runs in the top of the second, two more in the top of the fourth and three run in the top of the fifth – getting key hits from the middle of their lineup.

Yeah, it's kind of contagious,” Gamers Head Coach Matt Whiteside said of his team's offensive outbursts. “We got a couple of guys on in front of the big boppers, Ryan (Mantle) and Matt (Vierling) and P.J. (Hedman). They caught up to a couple and that led to some big innings and wore out (the Illinois Indians) starter a little bit and we were able to get to their bullpen. They did what they were supposed to do.”

Tournament MVP Ryan Mantle, a third cousin, twice removed, of legendary New York Yankees slugger Mickey Mantle, ignited the offense with a leadoff triple laced down the right field line in the top of the second. P.J. Hedman followed Mantle in the order and yanked an RBI single down the left field line. After Hedman stole second base, Eric Hipp hit a sharp RBI single up the middle of the field to make it a 2-0 game.

Mantle continued to set the tone in the top of the fourth, leading off the frame with a hard single up the middle. P.J. Hedman followed Mantle with a triple of his own, and scored on a sacrifice fly off the bat of C.J. Schaeffer.

In the top of the fifth, Alex Barton led off the inning with a single, scoring the team's fifth run when Matthew Vierling hit a booming double off the base of the wall in left-centerfield. Mantle followed Vierling with an RBI single to left, and Schaeffer added another RBI with a bloop single, scoring Vierling.

Vierling, a Notre Dame recruit, took the mound for the final two innings in relief of Mitchell Plassmeyer, throwing 85-87 heat to secure the shutout, the championship and the paid invitation to Jupiter.

The old adage, pitching and defense, it starts with that,” Whiteside said of his team's success. “We got quality starts from a couple guys here in particular. Across the board we threw a lot of strikes, we made the plays behind them and then the bats got rolling and we swung it well to score enough to win.”

After out-scoring their opponents 25-3 in their three pool play-in games, the Gamers knocked off three of the tournament's tougher teams – Elite Baseball Training 2015, the Hitters and the Illinois Indians – TRIBE – in the playoffs thanks to a 11-to-3 run differential.

I thought we beat a couple of pretty good pitchers last night with the team we faced (Elite Baseball) over at the stadium in Iowa (City),” said Whiteside. “We just grinded out at-bats, we made plays and threw a lot of strikes, and the same thing today with the Hitters. That's a good program that had good arm on the mound.”

Before heading to Jupiter for the WWBA World Championship, Whiteside will be taking his team to the WWBA Underclass World Championship which will be held in Fort Myers, Fla. two weeks from now.

We're going to be in Fort Myers in two weeks and then we'll be going back down (to Jupiter),” said Whiteside of his upcoming travel. “So we'll do what we normally do in the middle of the week to get ready. We competed and won our chance to get into in, we had to qualify for that and we did and we're really excited about that as a program.”

While it was truly a team effort that carried the St. Louis Gamers 17u squad to the Kernels Foundation Championship, the performance of Mantle stood out. He hit .500 in six games (8-for-16) with a pair of doubles, a triple, two RBI and eight runs scored while playing rock solid defense at the hot corner.

It's a lot better that the team won than me getting the MVP,” Mantle said, quick to share MVP honors with his teammates. “We came out here and we had the Plassmeyer brothers pitching out of their mind. They make playing defense pretty easy.

Matt (Vierling) and me and P.J. (Hedman), we had a good day. And even the bottom (of the lineup) had a good day too. Everybody just played well, it was fun.”

Mantle, who is currently ranked 171
st in Perfect Game's national rankings of the top high school prospects from the class of 2015, has a knack for putting up big numbers at Perfect Game WWBA tournaments. He was named to the All-Tournament Team at both the 2012 15u WWBA National Championship and the 2013 16u WWBA National Championship.

Just pray, that's about it,” Mantle said of the key to his success. “Just try to stay loose and go have fun.”

In the first semifinal game of the day, the Illinois Indians – TRIBE defeated the Chicago White Sox ACE team 8-1. The Indians put the game out of reach in the bottom of the fourth inning, scoring five runs on four base hits and three errors committed by the White Sox.

McCarthy Tatum had a pair of RBI sacrifice flies, and also pitched the final 2 2/3 innings of the game without allowing a run while striking out a pair of batters. Tatum relieved starter T.J. Case, who walked eight batters but didn't allow a hit over the first 4 1/3 innings of the game.


2013 WWBA Kernels Foundation Championship runner-up:  Illinois Indians - TRIBE



2013 WWBA Kernels Foundation Championship MVP: Ryan Mantle, St. Louis Gamers 17u



2013 WWBA Kernels Foundation Championship co-MV-Pitchers: Mitchell (left) and Michael Plassmeyer, St. Louis Gamers 17u



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