Tournaments : : Story
Monday, October 24, 2011

World belongs to Marucci Elite

Jeff Dahn        
Photo: Perfect Game

JUPITER, Fla. – In the moments after Marucci Elite had won its first Perfect Game WWBA World Championship title and only two weeks to the day after a Marucci Elite squad won the WWBA Underclass World Championship, field manager Chad Raley was asked what the organization hoped to accomplish from here on out.

“We just want to keep winning championships,” Raley said. “We want to keep winning championships and keep building the organization and make Marucci proud of us, and just keep playing the game the right way.”

Marucci Elite, armed with a roster featuring elite prospects representing 10 states from all across this great land, pushed across a run in the bottom of the sixth to break a 2-2 tie, and held on to beat upstart Central Florida PG Royal, 3-2, in the championship game of the WWBA World Championship Monday afternoon at Roger Dean Stadium.

Marucci Elite (7-0-1) became the first program to win both the WWBA World Championship and WWBA Underclass World Championship outright in the same year. Marucci won the Underclass World title two weeks ago in Fort Myers, Fla., the second straight year it had won that championship.

“This has been an unbelievable ride,” Raley said. “I’m really proud of these guys and they have a tremendous amount of character. We’re definitely doing some good things here.”

Four prospects filled roster spots on both Marucci Elite World championship teams: SS Oscar Mercado, INF Blake Hennessey, C/RHP Adrian Chacon and C Andrew Dunlap, who was the MV Player at the Underclass event.

At the conclusion of this tournament, outfielder Ty Moore, a senior at Mater Dei High School in Mission Viejo, Calif., who has committed to UCLA, was named the Most Valuable Player. Right-hander Marcus Brakeman, a senior at Shorecrest Prep in Tierra Verde, Fla., who has committed to Stanford, was named the Most Valuable Pitcher.

Moore was 7-for-19 (.350) at the tournament, with five walks, five runs scored and three RBI. In the championship game, he hit a lead-off triple in the bottom of the third inning and scored on a single from PG All-American Andrew Pullin that tied the score at 2-2.

“It was by far one of the best tournaments I’ve ever been to, and just to see all those golf carts and all of those people watching back there, it’s really a great feeling,” Moore said. “We expected to be here and I know the (underclass) tournament over in Fort Myers, Marucci took that one two years in a row.

“I only knew two or three of the players on (the team) when I first got here, but we meshed pretty well and after the first day we expected to be here.”

Moore was joined on the team by four other Californians, including PG All-American right-hander Cody Poteet from Bonita and shortstop Chris Rivera from Fullerton. Rivera is the nation’s No. 1-ranked overall prospect in the class of 2013.

The other players on Elite’s roster came from Florida, Illinois, Washington, Mississippi, Maryland, Texas, Oklahoma, Georgia and Louisiana, where the organization is based (Baton Rouge). Fifteen of the roster spots were filled with players who have committed to Division I schools.

“I had a couple of other teams … that wanted me to come and play for them, but you can’t beat Marucci. They offer the best teams and it showed today,” Moore said. “It’s not always about  putting together the (Perfect Game All-American) or the Team USA roster, it’s putting together a bunch of kids that go out and mesh well together and put some runs on the board.”

Brakeman picked up a save in Marucci’s 5-4 pool-play win over Next Level Baseball Friday afternoon and then came close to no-hitting Canes Baseball in a quarterfinal Sunday that Marucci held on to win 2-1.

“It’s really exciting getting to play against the best competition and it will help prepare me for the next level,” Brakeman said of the Jupiter experience.

“Everyone was really confident,” he continued. “We got started a little slowly but we got things going eventually, and by Sunday we were really rolling. Being able to beat all the eighty-something teams that were out here, I’m really proud of that.”

Marucci got valuable contributions from left-hander Kirby Snead, a Florida commit and a junior at Santa Fe High School in Alachua, Fla., and from shortstop Oscar Mercado, a junior at Gaither High School in Tampa and a Florida State commit, throughout the playoffs. Marucci outscored its three playoff opponents by a combined 10-5, including a 4-3 win over the Reds Midwest Scout Team in its semifinal game Monday morning.

Chase Nyman, a senior at Pascagoula (Miss.) High School and an Ole Miss recruit, doubled in the bottom of the sixth to drive in what proved to be the winning run in the championship game.

“We just had a great group of kids who were able to jell and come together as a team,” Raley said. “It was unbelievable to sit back and watch these guys jell as a group. They’re all great kids, they listen, and they’re all humble kids and they all had something to play for. We had one goal in mind and we achieved that goal.”

Not too many people expected Central Florida PG Royal – a member of the FTB Mizuno organization – to be playing for a championship Monday afternoon, but there it was.

Thanks to fine pitching efforts from right-handers Jose Alexander Jimenes Gracias from Puerto Rico; Minnesota brothers Matthew and Michael Ruppenthal, and left-hander Ian McKinney, and a terrific tournament at the plate from 1B Nick Longhi, PG Royal made a concerted run at the championship. Longhi was 3-for-3 in the championship game and 10-for-19 (.526) at the tournament.

Central Florida PG Royal beat pre-tournament favorites Cardinals Scout Team/FTB Mizuno, 5-3, in the quarterfinals and the Texas Sun Devils, 8-2, in the semifinals, and finished with a 7-1 record.

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