Three 14U Sox teams traveled north to compete in the USSSA Early Bird World Series Qualifier at Snowden Grove Park. When the dust settled late Sunday evening, all three teams had competed in both championship brackets, with two coming out with the gold medals.
14U Prime, coached by Chris Snopek, swept through the A bracket and earned the top seed; Alex Gunn's 14U Select team earned the top seed in the B bracket and 14U Elite earned the third seed in the B bracket.
After a rain storm moved through early Sunday morning to delay the start of bracket play, Prime got it started with a win over an Easley Baseball Club team, Black Goforth. Prime scored in every inning and turned in error-free defensive performance behind a shut out from the mound by Ashton Schepens, Trey Adams Kaleb Lipscomb to log an 8-0 victory. Next up was the Memphis Tigers White team, dispatched by Prime 16-1 as Cole Manuel, Thomas Nichols and Jackson Evers combined for 9 RBI on 6 hits. That win set up the Bracket A Championship Game with Germantown Giants - Linder team.
After the Giants were retired in the top of the 1st on 4 batters, Prime got on the board with a lead off double from Kaleb Lipcomb, who advanced to 3rd on a base hit by Duncan Mathews. Thomas Nichols drove him in with a sacrifice fly to right field - keeping Prime's string of innings with a score alive. The Giants tied the score with a run in the top of the 2nd, and held Prime scoreless in the bottom of the inning to keep tied at 1-1 going to the 3rd. The Giants
took advantage of a Prime defensive error to start the 3rd, batting a score in with a sac fly to take a 2-1 lead, the first time Prime had trailed in the tournament. Prime responded with a base hit from Carter Davis, who was bunted to 2nd base by Lipscomb and scored off a double from Duncan Mathews to tie the game at 2-2. Germantown punched back in the 4th with a 2 out hit followed by a double to take a 3-2 lead. In the bottom of the 4th, Prime had a one-out hit from Cole Manuel, followed by a walk issued to Trey Adams. The runners advanced on two passed balls that scored Manuel and put Adams on 3rd before John Whitt Snopek scored Adams on a hard ground ball to short, reaching on the play with an error from the short stop. Prime was back on top 4-3 after 4 innings. The Giants tied the score by reaching on a walk and hit batsman with 1 out followed by an RBI base hit and loaded the bases. They took the lead with another walk and ended the top of the 5th with a 5-4 lead. Prime started the bottom of the last inning with a lead off double from Schepens. Davis hit a ground ball to advance the tying run to 3rd, and after Lipscomb walked Mathews tied the game with a base hit. Nichols walked to load the bases, and Jackson Evers was hit by a 3-0 pitch to score Lipscomb and win the championship.
Notes: Duncan Mathews had 3 hits and 5 RBI; Ashton Schepens, Kaleb Lipscomb and Mathews hit a double; Thomas Nichols pitched 3.0 innings with 2 K's and 0 earned runs.
14U Select and 14U Elite
Alex Gunn's Select played their first tournament of the Spring and made it to the Championship Game, eventually losing to 14U Elite 8-3 to finish as silver medalists. The day started with a first round bye in Bracket B, defeating the EBC Black team 5-4 in walk off fashion after the teams ended regulation play tied, as Ryan Owens delivered a base hit to score Henry Hollis in the extra inning and propel Select to the final game.
Elite's day didn't get underway until after 4 PM after advancing to the final day with a blanking of Batter's Box Gray 6-0 late Saturday night. Elite took the field against Batter's Box Red in a pitching duel as Elite score 2 runs to start the game in the top of the first. The runs stood up with a 2-1 victory as Caleb Thompson pitched 5 strong innings and Dayne Stanford closed it out in the last inning, stranding the tying run on 2nd base. That set up the championship game to face the 14U Elite.
Elite started the game with hot bats and scored in bunches. Takorre Clowers walked to start the game off pitcher Hunter Blackwell, with J Mike Hammett hit by a pitch. Maddox Noe delivered a base hit to left field, scoring Clowers from 2nd. With 2 on and 2 out, Graham Busbea drove a double center field and picked up 2 RBI with Hammett and Noe scoring. JC Garrard hit a hard ground ball and reached on an error as Busbea scored, ending the top of
inning with 4 runs. Matthew Birdsong toed the rubber for Elite, inducing a line out and 2 ground balls to preserve the 4-0 lead. Select got on the board in the bottom of the 2nd, as Henry Hollis singled on a ground ball to short stop with one out, but was out on a fielder's choice by Will Upton as the Elite infield tried to turn a double play. Ryan Owens kept the inning alive with a base hit to left field, and Upton scored with a double from Drew Newman to right field, ending the 2nd with Elite up 4-1. After a scoreless 3rd, Elite added 4 more runs in the top of the 4th, all with 2 outs. Brock Makamson walked after Garrett Smith reached on an error, with Smith advancing to 3rd and scoring on a passed ball and wild pitch. Drew Lambert worked a walk, and Caleb Carter replaced Blackwell on the mound with runners at 1st and 3rd. Clowers hit a towering fly ball to center and
reached on error, scoring Lambert after Makamson had scored on a passed ball earlier in the at bat. After Hammett drew a walk, Maddox Noe scored Clowers with a single, ending the ending with an 8-1 lead. Blackwell hit a one-out single to center field for Elite in the bottom of the 4th, followed by a walk issued to Hollis and single from Will Upton to load the bases with one out. Ryan Owens answered with a single to right field to score a run, chasing Birdsong from the mound in favor of Drew Lambert. After Hollis scored on a passed ball, Lambert induced a pop up back to the mound from Drew Newman to record the 2nd out of the inning. Sam Stumph drew a walk to load the bases before Lambert pulled a ground ball from the bat of Cole Stumph, grounding out to 2nd to end the game and preserve the championship for Elite, 8-3
Notes: Maddox Noe 2-2, 2 RBI and a run; Graham Busbea and Brock Makamson both hit doubles; Matthew Birdsong pitched 3.1 innings, 6 hits, 2 K's and 3 earned runs; Ryan Owens hit 2-2, RBI; Drew Newman hit a double; Hunter Blackwell pitched 3.2 innings, 5 hits, 3 K's, 3 earned runs.