Perfect Game Crowns 2 Champs
July 14, 2020 | Jeff Dahn
Longshots Baseball Teal powers to 17u Midwest Elite Championship title
MARION, Iowa – With the temperature in the mid 80’s and a stout but pleasant breeze blowing in out of the south, the Prospect Meadows Sports Complex was transformed into a hitters’ paradise Monday. Especially, it seemed, if you were wearing a Longshots Baseball Teal uniform.
The Longshots Teal sprayed out 17 hits and outlasted determined Rhino Wisconsin 2021, 14-7, in Monday’s championship game at the Perfect Game 17U Midwest Elite Championship. The Longshots (6-1-0), out of Downers Grove, Ill., went into the eight-team playoffs as the No. 6 seed, while the Appleton-based Rhino Wisconsin 2021 (5-2-0) entered as the No. 4 seed.
The championship game was the third of the day for both teams, and the Longshots Teal began flexing their offensive muscles early on. They tallied seven runs on eight hits in a 7-3 victory over Team Easton in Monday morning’s quarterfinals and six more hits in an 8-0, five inning win over the MN Blizzard Blue in the semifinals. That’s 27 runs in three games, which more times than not is more than enough.
“We have a really good offensive group, and they swing it pretty well at times,” Longshots Teal head coach Jerry Stanton told PG postgame. “We struggled early this morning but we seemed to wake up and today we just seemed to have everything working. There were a couple of guys that had to pitch that haven’t pitched in a couple of years and we got through it.”
The title tilt was kind of crazy at times, at least from a scoreboard operator’s perspective. The Longshots Teal scored three runs in the top of the second, exploded for 10 in the top of the third and added a single run in the fifth, which gave them a 14-5 lead and the chance to end it by the run-rule if they could shut-down the Rhinos Wisconsin 2021 in the bottom half of the frame.
It wasn’t to be. The Rhinos, who collected 10 hits themselves, had pushed across four runs in the bottom of the second and one in the bottom of the fourth, foiled the Longshots’ early exit plan by scoring two in the fifth to cut the lead to seven, and the game went the entire seven innings.
Obviously, hitting stars could be found around every corner in this one, and all 11 Longshots who got an at-bat collected at least one hit with production coming from every spot in the order. Where to begin?
Patrick Wind, the No. 10 hitter, hit a solo home run to lead off the fifth, added a pair of singles to that blast and finished with three RBI and two runs scored; Trevor Blum, the No. 11 hitter, tripled, singled, drove in two runs and scored another.
Matt Scolan and Austin Murray both singled, doubled and scored two runs apiece with Scolan driving in two and Murray one. Kaydon Norkus singled and had two RBI and two runs scored; Keenan Burgos doubled and both drove in and scored a run, Ben Donahue singled with an RBI and two scored and Jack Angus delivered a pair of singles and scored a run.
Rhino Wisconsin 2021 had its share of contributors, as well. Sawyer Strebe and Jaden Hackbarth each delivered two-run singles in the Rhinos four run second; Strebe also doubled and had a sac fly RBI in the fifth. Cameron Miller and Payton Wright both singled twice; Wright scored three runs, Miller two.
The Most Valuable Player and MV Pitcher awards were handed out to a couple of relative newcomers to PG tournament play.
Longshots Teal 2021 outfielder Matt Scolan, playing in just his third PG event, was named the MV Player after hitting 8 for 17 (.471) with a double, seven singles, four walks (.571 OBP) with nine RBI and eight runs scored.
Rhino Wisconsin 2021 righthander Isaac Bixby was the overwhelming choice for MV Pitcher after working 10 1/3 shutout, five-hit, 14 strikeout (no walks) innings over three appearances.
With everything taken as a whole, there really were no losers at this weekend’s PG 17U Midwest Elite Championship.
“This is the first time we’ve played (this summer) so this was a good experience for them,” Stanton said. “We grew, we went through some adversity when we lost (in pool play) but we came back through and persevered.”
JBA Clutch 14 Navy walks-off GRB Rays Green at WWBA 14U North
MARION, Iowa – It seemed inevitable that Monday’s championship game at the PG WWBA 14U North Championship would end in dramatic fashion. The entire game, after all, had offered delicious drama right from the start.
With their first two batters in the bottom of the seventh being retired on fly-outs and the game tied at 5, the JBA Clutch Navy 14 showed a mature and patient approach at the plate, and ultimately were able to secure a 6-5 walk-off victory over the GRB Rays Green late Sunday afternoon at the Prospect Meadows Complex.
The top-seeded Clutch Navy 14 (6-0-0) out of Wausau, Wis., received a bye into the semifinal-round of the playoffs, where they got by the No. 4 Hitters 2024 Grads, 8-5, to advance to the championship game. The No. 7 GRB Rays Green upset No. 2 P2P Millers North 14U, 7-3, in the quarterfinals before escaping the No. 3 Iowa Sticks Red, 6-5, in the semis.
“It’s awesome to be able to come here and play some high-level competition and high-level baseball where it’s true baseball, you know what I mean?” JBA Clutch 14 Navy head coach Jeremy Jirschele said during postgame comments. “It’s good for these guys to be in all types of different situations, and these guys really took care of business and put themselves in a good situation coming into bracket play.”
The PG WWBA 14U North championship game was tied at five heading into the bottom of the seventh, and although JBA had never trailed, the outcome was far from pre-ordained. And to think the winning rally didn’t get started until there were already two outs made it all the more improbable.
While his three teammates that had stepped to the plate before him had shown steely eyed patience, Emmitt Konieczny was ready to let it rip. He lined the first pitch he saw into centerfield for a walk-off, RBI single that set off a celebration for the ages.
JBA Clutch 14 Navy scored its six runs on seven hits and the GRB Rays Green, based in Windsor, Wis., also used seven hits to score its five runs. JBA plated two runs in the bottom of the second and three more in the third before collecting the game winner in the seventh.
A single from Rechner, three walks and two wild pitches led to the Clutch’s two runs in the second and singles from Gavin Obremski, Dylan Dobratz and Braylon Smola (which drove in two) contributed to the three-run third.
The GRB Rays plated a pair of runs in the top of the second and two more in the fourth before pushing the tying run across in the top of the fifth.
Anderson Hayes delivered a two-run single in the second and doubled and scored in the fourth when Steffen Mello also came through with a double. Landon Seymour came up big with a two-out, one-run single in the top of the fifth that tied the score at 5.
JBA’s Dobratz, a 2023 outfielder/corner-infielder making his second appearance at a PG event, was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player after going 9 for 15 (.600) with four doubles, five singles, nine RBI, two runs scored and four stolen bases.
His teammate, the 2024 righthander Rechner-also at his second PG event-was the named the MV Pitcher for his work over three appearances, which amounted to 7 1/3 innings of shutout, four hit ball with four strikeouts and four walks.
“These guys have had some success and they’ve played some high-level competition, and it’s just one of those things where they never get down,” Jirschele said. “It seems like all the time it’s somebody else that steps up and gets big hits in big situations or makes big pitches or makes a great defensive play. That’s what true teams are all about, right?
“They’re great, they have each other’s backs, they pick each other up and they understand the game; that’s all you can ask from a 14-year-old.”