(Awards photo taken just as thunder sounded at the field)
by Dean Fox
After a long weekend of baseball, the Rawlings Southeast Prospects could finally call themselves one thing Sunday night: Champions.
The Prospects got a five-run fourth inning and went on the win the Big South Regional Championship 13u bracket by claiming a 5-2 victory over the New Balance Elite Mavericks. Mason Baker had a three-run double and Abe Goolsby got the win with four strong innings on the mound.
The game was called due to a thunderstorm in the bottom of the fifth.
"It's been quite a season for us," Rawlings coach Ben Hayslip said. "We've had some ups, we've had some downs, we've had some people get hurt -- just about everything that can happen to a team. They saved their best for last in the biggest tournament of the summer."
The Mavericks opened the scoring in the top of the first when Grant Snider singled and eventually scored on Evan Cardwell's grounder. The Mavericks were poised to score again, but left fielder Hezy Scott threw out a runner at the plate to end the frame.
Johnny Pfefferle tripled to lead off the second inning and scored on an errant pick-off throw, pushing the Mavericks' lead to 2-0.
That lead was erased in the bottom of the fourth. Three straight walks to open the inning loaded the bases, and Rawlings tied it up when Kaden Wilks scored on an error and Knox Roberts came home on a wild pitch. It appeared the Mavericks would get out of the inning, but with two out, Baker hit a 3-and-2 pitch into center for a three-run double.
"He came up big," Hayslip said. "He always seems to have a big knack for coming up when we need it."
The Prospects' semifinal win was a thriller, with Rawlings rallying for a 10-8 win over the Clarksville Orioles. Baker's two-run single highlighted a four-run fifth inning that turned a two-run deficit into a 6-4 lead, and Rawlings held on for the win.
Adam Gordon came into pitch with the bases loaded and one out and got a strikeout and a flyout to secure Rawlings' spot in the title game.
Rawlings was the No. 3 seed for the tournament, winning three pool games by a combined seven runs and then beating the Warthogs 7-4 in a quarterfinal.
The Mavericks were the tournament's No. 5 seed. They lost their first pool-play game but roared back to score 34 combined runs in their next two outings. After an 8-3 win over the Murfreesboro Blacksox in a quarterfinal, they reached the title game with an 13-2 semifinal victory over the Old Hickory Generals. The Mavs took control of the game with a 10-run third inning.
by Dean Fox
FRANKLIN, Tenn. -- The Southlake Dragons breathed fire at just the right time at the Big South Regional Championships, capturing the 14-under championship late Sunday morning with a 7-2 victory over the Nashville Knights Platinum team.
The Dragons (Texas) split their three pool-play games, getting a win and a tie to earn the No. 5 seed in the tournament. But the Dragons had a pair of shutouts in the first two elimination games, then scored four times in the top of the first in the championship game.
"These guys have been full of fight the whole season," Dragons coach Tim Wright said. "That's been their M.O. They've been fighting the whole summer, and so I thought we were in a pretty good spot going into the tournament. We had a lot of pitching left, and we've got a lot of talent."
The game couldn't have started any better for the Dragons. The first seven batters all walked as two different Knights pitchers struggled to find the plate, combining to throw strikes only six times in their first 33 pitches. As a result, the Dragons scored four times, with Jace Christian, Hayden Lee, Andy Fordyce and Nate Arterburn all drawing bases-loaded walks.
"It's a little frustrating because we're a hitting team," Wright said. "You want to get there and get the bats going, but you take what you're given and that's how it works."
Knights reliever Evan Bell escaped further damage, using a nice play by first baseman Max Weyenberg, who caught a liner and turned into a double play. But those four first-inning runs would be crucial.
Dragons starter Grant Wright pitched four solid innings, allowing only third-inning damage when Gabe Hildabrand hit a two-out, two-run double that cut the Knights' deficit in half, 4-2.
"Grant Wright has won a lot of games for us, and Kaleb Higgs did a great job those last three innings," Tim Wright said. "They've been a dynamic duo."
The Dragons took control of the Knights' wildness in the sixth, loading the bases on three walks. Christian and Ben Tryon scored on consecutive squeeze plays, and Arterburn scored on a wild pitch to make it 7-2.
by Dean Fox
FRANKLIN, Tenn. — The Clarksville Orioles 13s entered Saturday's pool play looking to reach the single-elimination tournament unblemished. Strong pitching and a couple of power displays ensured that happened.
Preston Rager threw five solid innings, and Lane Barger and Devin Otero both hit two-run home runs as the Orioles finished pool play with a 7-2 victory over the Franklin Bombers at Triple Crown’s Big South Regional Championship.
The Orioles, who had 10-9 and 12-2 wins on Friday, started quickly. They took the lead in the first inning when Gavin Dufault led off with a single, stole second and came home on Nick Ray's two-out single.
“This is our final tournament of the summer, and we’ve been able to peak at the right time,” Orioles coach Brian Story said. “Our pitching has been our best aspect this summer. We came out and threw strikes and got ahead of people, and we put ourselves in a position to win.”
The Orioles doubled the lead in the bottom of the third as Blake Butcher drew a lead-off walk, advanced on Dufault's single and scored on Preston Brooks' grounder.
The Bombers cut the lead to 2-1 in the fourth as Peyton Kirton, Josh Lambert, Garet Dean and Brody Walker all had singles. But Rager kept his team in the lead, coaxing an infield grounder for a forceout at home for the second out, then getting a strikeout to end the inning.
Barger homered in the bottom of the fourth, smacking a line drive over the center-field fence to make it 4-1.
Ben Chance scored in the top of the fifth when he stole third and came home on an error, cutting the Bombers' deficit to 4-2, but the Orioles took command in the bottom of the inning, getting an RBI double from Proctor and a two-run shot from Otero to make it 7-2.
“They got into ‘em, didn’t they?” Story said. “We have some power, but being 13, we play on a lot of high-school fields, and this is one of the smaller fields we’ve played on. We’ve hit some balls really well, but those are the first two we’ve been able to get out of the park.”
Rager finished with 80 pitches, allowing six hits, walking two and striking out three.
Kobi Knight came into pitch for the O's in the sixth and got a pair of strikeouts with the bases full of Bombers to wriggle out of a jam. Cade Steiner pitched the seventh.
The Orioles are in line for one of the top four seeds in Sunday's single-elim bracket; the title game is scheduled for 6 p.m.
by Dean Fox
FRANKLIN, Tenn. -- The New Balance Elite Mavericks found balance Friday morning in 13U pool play at Liberty Park.
After dropping a tough decision in the 8 a.m. game, the Mavericks rolled to a 17-0 three-inning victory to gain a split on the day entering Friday at the Big South Regional Championships.
Johnny Pfefferle hit a three-run homer and Dom Monaco allowed only hit on the mound to key the victory. Pfefferle, Monaco, Tyler Rose and Matthew Canella all had two hits apiece for the Mavericks, who also drew 12 walks. Every Mavericks starter scored at least one run.
Monaco was also a star at the plate, going 2-3 with a pair of doubles, scoring twice.
Roman Petricca walked and eventually scored on a passed ball to open the scoring. Pfefferle followed with an RBI single that scored Evan Cardwell, and then Pfefferle scored on a passed ball that made it 3-0.
The Mavericks scored four runs in the second inning, including three on Pfefferle's blast over the left-field fence. The home run came on an 0-2 pitch with two outs, and scored Cardwell and Grant Snider to make it 7-0.
"He line-drived that one out of here," Mavericks coach Brent Chance said. "I told him in the batter's box, 'Try to knock one over the fence,' and he said, 'All right, coach.'"
Then came the third inning. With threatening skies, the Mavericks put the game away with a 10-run effort.
Colby Tucker had the only hit for the Outlaws, who left eight men on base in their three innings.
"(Monaco) struggled at times, but he got out of it," Chance said. "They had bases loaded twice, but he got out of it."
It was a big win for the Mavericks, who lost 8-5 to the Warren County Warthogs earlier in the day. The Warthogs scored three times in the sixth and final inning to break a 5-all tie.
"It's really big to come back," Chance said. "We've played this team before and so we knew we wanted to put the pressure on them, get guys on base and score runs."
FORT COLLINS, Colo. – In one of the all-time upsets in sports history, beloved YouTube baseball mainstay Domingo Ayala has yet to be signed to a major league deal – their loss is your gain, as Triple Crown Sports has announced plans for eight stops on the 2019 TC Baseball Domingo Ayala Tour.
This will be the fourth year TC baseball and Domingo have joined forces. He has performed in a variety of settings, from indoor sports facilities, sports complexes, youth baseball fundraisers, corporate events and even in MLB locker rooms. Ayala’s unconventional journey to excellence provides a great deal of comedic material that sports fans have embraced over the years.
His batting and pitching stats are awe-inspiring, as are the following numbers:
YouTube: Over 175 videos, 33 million+ views and 160,000 subscribers
Facebook: More than 265,000 followers
Instagram: 218,000 followers
Twitter: 82,500 followers
Here’s the schedule for the 2019 Domingo Ayala TCS Tour:
March 16 – Arizona Spring Championships, Phoenix
May 26 – Bend, OR Elks Memorial Day Tournament
June 13-14 – Omaha SlumpBuster, Session 1
June 20-21 – Omaha SlumpBuster, Session 3
July 5 – Big South Regional Championship, Nashville TN
July 16 – U.S. Club Nationals, Atlanta
July 22 – TCS World Series, Park City, UT
July 30 – TCS World Series, Steamboat Springs, CO
“Triple Crown Baseball has always pushed the margins when it comes to what a tournament experience can look like, and we are very pleased to partner with Domingo Ayala for yet another season,” said Sean Hardy, VP of Sports at TCS. “His skills as a player are only topped by his abilities as an entertainer, and his command of an audience creates that extra level of fun for all ages.”
Look for details on upcoming appearances at www.domingobeisbol.com
About Domingo Ayala
At the age of 2, Domingo Ayala started playing baseball. It wasn't long after that when he became one of the best players in his hometown of Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic. In his pursuit to make it to the MLB, Ayala packed his bags and moved to the United States.
Now, the self-proclaimed best baseball player in the world still claims to be 17 years old. Though many believe him to be slightly older, no one has seen a birth certificate to disprove his claim. As he travels the world teaching baseball, his ultimate goal is still to make it to the big leagues.
About Triple Crown Sports
Based in Fort Collins, CO., Triple Crown Sports has been producing college and youth events for more than 35 years, with more than 90 events scheduled for 2019 in the arenas of youth baseball, fastpitch, basketball, lacrosse and volleyball. The TCS footprint includes both the preseason and postseason WNIT basketball events and the men’s and women’s Cancun Challenge tournaments in November. Triple Crown is also powering “WNIT” concept events in D-I softball (NISC) and volleyball (NIVC), with those two events debuting in 2017. TCS youth fastpitch tournaments (including the 900-team Sparkler/Fireworks event) draw the nation’s finest club programs, and hundreds of college coaches attend TCS events for recruiting purposes.
By Brian DeGruchy
FRANKLIN, Tenn. – The 14u Big South Regional Gold Bracket Championship game had thunder from the ball hitting the bat, and in the sky around Jim Warren Park on Monday, as the Nashville Knights Platinum took an 8-6 victory over ITP Lightning (Caldwell) from Atlanta, Georgia.
The Knights were undefeated (6-0) in the three-day tournament and handed ITP Lightning (5-1) its only loss in the final game.
“We had all our guys back, and I thought we played very cohesively and got a lot of clutch hits. We were really good on the mound, everybody contributed, and that’s what I was really happy about,” said Knights’ head coach Chad Biles. “We were in control for most of our games. All of it comes from the kids. They were very concentrated and into every inning.”
The Knights got on the board in the bottom of the first inning. Leadoff hitter Brantley Bamberg drew a lead-off walk and moved to second on a ground ball to the shortstop before stealing third. Bamberg scored on a throwing error after Trey Hunter hit a double to right center, and Hunter later scored on an error to give the Knights a 2-0 lead.
The Lightning answered back with a run of their own in the top of the second inning. Mason Stephenson reached first on a single to second base and then advanced to third on a double down the rightfield line by Charles Lindsay. Stephenson scored on a wild pitch to cut the Knights lead in half, 2-1.
Nashville added two more runs in the fifth. Bamberg hit a double down the leftfield line and went to third on a single to left by Harrison Gant, before Trey Hunter drove him on a single to center for a 3-1 lead. Gant scored on a balk later in the inning to give the Knights a 4-1 advantage.
The Lightning tied the game, 4-4, in the top of the sixth after Francisco Armstrong got the rally started with a single to center. Kai Cunningham followed with a double, and then a bases-clearing, two-RBI triple by Robert Clarke made it 4-3. Clarke later scored on a fielder’s choice by Lindsay.
The Knights strung together four runs in the bottom of the sixth to regain the lead. Pinch hitter Nick Judd collected a leadoff walk and moved second on a sacrifice bunt by Creed McLellan. The next batter, Nathan Peay, took his base on balls before Bamberg reached base for the third time in the game on a single through the left side to load the bases for Gant.
Coach Biles called for a suicide squeeze, and Gant delivered a perfect bunt to allow everyone to be safe on the bunt single. Carter stepped up to the plate with the bases loaded and could have possibly taken an inside fastball to put him on base, but instead smacked a two-RBI single to center. A misplayed ball in center allowed a third run to score and moved Carter to third, giving the Knights an 8-4 edge.
Carter’s single came after turning his back on a fastball in the at bat, to which the crowd reacted.
“It did give me motivation to get a base hit. It also made me mad, and I said, ‘this ball is done with,’ and I just tried to hit it right back up the middle just like our coaches teach us,” Carter said. “I felt confident about this game. We were getting hyped right before the game and we were ready to play this game. We all just played together and I felt like I was on a really good hitting streak.”
The Lightning did not go down quietly, as they got a rally started on a single to left by Nate Lyons and a walk to Hayes Woley. Cunningham brought in Lyons on a single to right center and Clarke reached on a double to right to put the winning run at the plate, but the game ended on a fly out to center.
Bamberg scored three of the Knights’ eight runs as the leadoff hitter.
“When I get on base coach gives me the green light to steal bases, and I think that gives my teammates a better opportunity to drive me in,” Bamberg said. “I have not been hitting good for a while, and it felt good to hit and drive some runs in. It was a good game both ways. I think we came out on top because we drove the ball better and played better defense. We all came in clutch spots and did what we needed to do.”
Nashville starting pitcher Justin Battle went five innings, striking out six Lightning hitters and allowing one earned run. Carter collected the win in relief, despite allowing three earned runs to tie the game. He struck out two. Jackson Underwood closed the game in the seventh, allowing two earned runs and striking out one.
The Big South Regional is the Knights’ first championship win of the summer after finishing runner-up in a couple of championship games before this one.
In other 14u action, Fury Performance claimed the Silver Bracket with a 5-4 win over the Clarksville Orioles and Cross Hit Red came out on top in the consolation bracket.
By Brian DeGruchy
FRANKLIN, Tenn. – Viper Baseball Academy from Brownsboro, Alabama defeated the Clarksville (Tenn.) Orioles, 7-2, to complete a sweep of its final day of pool play in the 14U Big South Regional Championships on Sunday at Jim Warren Park.
“Our biggest issue all season has been throwing strikes, and in both games we played today we had a total of three walks as a pitching staff. We pounded the strike zone today just as well as we have seen all summer. Our biggest key is to pound the zone as much as possible,” said head coach Blake Talley. “Hitting wise we were finally getting the bats going. We transition from wood to aluminum a lot, and I think we are transitioning to aluminum bats again.”
Earlier Sunday, Viper defeated Foutch (Mich.), 11-1, after falling to ITP Lightning (Ga.), 7-4, on Saturday. The win over Clarksville puts VBA runner-up in Pool D.
“I think going into bracket play we have some pitching left; we are 2-1 so we are not going to be a high seed, but we will be up there so I am excited. I’m glad the boys are coming together and we are not allowing too many free bases,” Talley said.
Viper Baseball Academy got its scoring started in the second inning on a two-RBI double by Chance Griner that brought in Jarett Mason and Ephram Milne to give them a 2-0 lead.
The big inning for VBA was the third, scoring five runs. The inning started on a leadoff walk taken by Stran Sawyer, then a single by Brady Merriweather and a single by Andy Locker. This brought up Alex Wade with the bases loaded and nobody out. He hit a two-RBI double to right to give them a 4-0 lead. Wade later scored on a RBI single to right by Connor Ford, who scored on a Landon Baeder RBI single to right.
“I was looking for a fastball that the coaches told me to look for. I saw one well and I hit it well,” Wade said. “I think driving in the three runs for the game helped us win, because we won by quite a bit, and it got the team excited.”
Clarksville answered back in the top of the fourth with a run of its own. Charlie Davis hit a single up the middle and advanced to third on two wild pitches, giving Brody Lanham the opportunity to drive him in as he hit a double to left center to close the gap, 7-1. The final run of the game came in the top of the seventh. It started by an infield single to second by Brody Lanham, and then Lanham moved to third on two wild pitches and was brought in on a RBI double down the left field line by Eli Burchett for a final score of 7-2.
Merriweather went 3-for-3 at the dish with a double, two singles and run scored to lead VBA.
“I was trying to stay loaded on my backside and make sure I commanded the baseball well,” Merriweather said. “I was just sitting on a fastball and trying to hit it and make contact on it and hit the ball hard.”
Bracket play begins Monday morning at 8 a.m. CT. The 14U Gold Bracket championship game is scheduled for 3:45 p.m. at Jack Warren Park.
By Brian DeGruchy
FRANKLIN, Tenn. – The Nashville Mad Mavericks of Spring Hill, Tennessee defeated the Fury Performance from Woodstock, Georgia, 4-1, Sunday to collect their first pool play win at the 14U Big South Regional Championships at Jim Warren Park. The score might not indicate it, but Mad Mavericks’ pitchers John Dippold and Ingram Hitt threw a combined no-hitter during the game.
“We were throwing strikes early in the game; John Dippold did an awesome job of locating his fastball well and changing speeds well,” said head coach Bobby Morgan. “The defense played well and had no errors on the field.
“Ingram came in to finish off the game; he got into a little bit of trouble, but we got out of it. On the offensive side one big inning leads to four runs with back to back to back hits. It was a good overall victory.”
The Mad Mavericks’ big inning came in the fourth, getting started on a triple by Bryson Hammons, who came into score on Gunner Haskins’ sacrifice fly to left. Grant Morgan hit a single through the right side and the next batter, Nic Raum, hit a single up the middle to put runners on first and second.
John Cannella then walked to give a bases-loaded opportunity to Brady Pemberton, who did not miss. Pemberton hit a two-RBI double to left to give the Mad Mavericks a 3-0 lead. The other run scored on a ground ball to short by Hitt for a 4-0 cushion.
Despite no hits as a team, the Furys managed a run in the fifth inning after David Neubert was hit by a pitch. Tyler Stevenson ran the bases for Neubert and scored on a RBI groundout by Brenden O’Sullivan.
Dippold received the win after five innings of work. He struck out six, but said the team’s no-hitter was special because he relied on his defense.
“It felt good to throw a no-hitter without having my best stuff on the mound today,” Dippold said. “When the Fury put the ball in play my defense made the plays, and they played great all around today with no errors.”
Hitt closed out the final two innings of the game with two Ks and also credited the defense working behind him
“I didn’t have my best stuff as well, but the defense played great behind us,” Hitt said.
Pemberton’s double in the fourth inning was his only hit, but proved to be half of the Mad Mavericks’ run support.
“I was in a 3-2 count, and he gave me a low inside fastball. I turned on it and sent it to left field down the line. It was big, because it put us up 3-0 at the time then the next kid (Ingram Hitt) hit a ground ball to short, which was big for the game,” Pemberton said.
By Brian DeGruchy
FRANKLIN, Tenn. -- The Nashville Knights 14U Platinum knighted the Nashville Cross Hit 13-3 in six innings of play Saturday during pool play at the Big South Regional Championships at Jim Warren Park.
Head coach Chad Biles thought his team played well, especially in the beginning of the game.
“We swung it pretty well and barreled the ball up,” Biles said. “We have been working on discipline, and I have a lot of really good hitters on the team.”
The Cross Hit pitchers gave up seven walks in the loss.
The Knights’ big push came in the second inning as they batted around the lineup and scored nine times during the inning off four hits and four walks. The big hit of the inning was a RBI single to center by Trey Hunter that brought in two runs to cap off the frame.
“It was a fastball right down the middle,” said Hunter, who also hit a single to right bringing in another run to complete the game going 2-4 with two singles and three RBI. “I was feeling it today.”
Adam Jamison went 2-2 with a triple to right and a double down the right field line. He also scored twice and walked from the nine hole.
“I was just trying to put the ball in play and move the runners over,” Jamison said of his day.
The Nashville Cross Hit scored two in the fourth on a two-RBI triple by Rudy Sleigh to bring in Paris Pridgen and Cooper Wallace. The Cross Hit’s other run was scored by Trevor Ferris in the fifth inning, who reached base on a single through the left side and scored on a wild pitch.
The Knights 14U Platinum’s next game will be at Davidson Academy where they will face the Nashville Select (Nichols) 14U out of Brentwood, Tennessee on Sunday at 10:15 a.m. The next game for the Nashville Cross Hit will also meet the Nashville Select (Nichols) 14U at Davidson at 8 a.m.
By Brian DeGruchy
FRANKLIN, Tenn. – In a hard-fought battle the Nashville/Brentwood Select 2018 defeated the Mason (Ohio) Monarchs, 6-1, Saturday to open the Triple Crown Baseball Big South Regional Championships 14U bracket. The Select scored three runs in the sixth inning to gain a little more wiggle room to close out the game at Jim Warren Park.
Franklin Select head coach, Ryan Victory, liked the way his team performed especially the pitching.
"I thought our boys did a really good job, starting with the pitching," he said. "When you have two guys go seven innings and only giving up one run, you will take that any day of the week.”
Victory also credited his batters for getting ahead in counts and being consistent at the plate. Select hitters forced Monarchs pitchers to allow six walks during the game, while also collecting seven hits.
Mason Monarchs’ Carter Woolfolk hit a sacrifice fly in the top of the first to score Brendan Garula, who reached base via a hit by pitch.
The Select answered with two runs in the first, and scored one in the second, and three in the sixth. Noah Christensen was the catalyst, not only at the plate but on the mound. He pitched five innings, allowing one run and went 1-for-2 at the plate with two RBI and two walks.
“Noah was great on the mound; you can’t ask any more from a starter than to go five innings and allow one run. Then to go up at the plate and have that two-RBI single,” Victory said.
Christensen credited his defense by allowing no errors through the duration of the game. “They allowed me to stand up and kept them at bay,” he said.
Christensen was not the only one to contribute, as Travis Swafford (1-for-3) collected a two-RBI single to left in the first inning, his only hit of the game, to give the Select the early lead.
“He gave me a fastball up and in, and I just took it to left center,” Swafford said.
Landen Rucker and Ryan Gregory also had base hits for Select, with Gregory scoring on a RBI single by John Pierce in the sixth.
Mason left the bases loaded in both the second and third innings.