Southern Maryland Elite wins title
Baseball team takes 12-U Cooperstown All-Star Village World Series crown
Sometimes big things really do come in small packages.
That has been the motto of the Southern Maryland Elite 12-U team this year, and really since the core team was formed in 2012. The team proved this motto to be true from July 16 to 21 at the Cooperstown All-Star Village Tournament in Oneonta, N.Y.
The only team representing Maryland in a tournament with 48 participants from Canada and 13 U.S. states, including Florida, Texas and California, SOMD Elite 12-U won the championship defeating the No. 6 seed DHYS Red Devils (Ga.), 11-8.
Although the team was able to put together a stellar week of baseball, the road to the championship did not come without its share of challenges. In fact, on the first day of pool play, Elite lost to Storm Baseball Blue (Ill.), 5-1.
Disappointed by the team’s lackluster performance, the coaching staff demanded all players return to the bunkhouse for a mandatory team meeting. During the team meeting, the coaching staff delivered a passionate speech, reminding the team what was at stake and the sacrifices parents, players and coaches had made to get to Cooperstown.
The coaching staff issued one final challenge, as every player in the bunkhouse hung on every word, “Lay it all on the line for the duration of the week. If you do the things we ask of you, we promise you will be pleased with the outcome.”
That conversation in the bunkhouse would prove to pay dividends later in the tournament.
The team responded by winning the next four pool play games by a margin of 56-11. As a result of the Day 1 loss, the team finished pool play as the No. 9 seed with a record of 5-1. The top eight seeds earned a first-round bye, enabling those teams to rest. Elite missed out on the opportunity to earn a first-round bye by a margin of three runs. Consequently, Elite’s first elimination game would took place versus the Troy Titans (Ill.). Elite would go on to defeat the Troy Titans, 14-1.
In the second game of the single elimination rounds, Elite squared off against Oaks Baseball Academy (California).
Oaks jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first on a home run and then padded the lead to 3-0 with a pair of homers in the second. Following a scoreless third by both teams, singles by Aden Hill and Bryce Whitney in the fourth were followed by a Shawn Cameron three-run homer to tie the game.
Alex Borges, Blake Pesante, Chet Bowling, Tyler Quade, Tyler Williamson and Ryan Clarke hit consecutive singles, which scored Borges, Pesante and Bowling. Derek Zumpano then crushed a grand slam to right-center field, making the score 10-3.
Nathan Robey homered to center after Zumpano to extend the lead to 11-3. Nick Stearns and Hill would then add backto-back singles before Cameron hit his second homer of the inning to cap the 14-run top of the fourth. Oaks responded to make it interesting by tacking on five more runs in the bottom of the fourth for a 14-8 game. However, in the top of the fifth, the Elite scored four more times highlighted by Quade’s two-run bomb and Stearns’ single to center to cap the scoring at 18-8.
The quarterfinal game pitted Elite against the No. 1 seed of the tournament, Elite Baseball Training from Chicago.
Elite Baseball jumped off to a 1-0 lead on a solo homer. The lead held until the third when starting pitcher Pesante homered to center, knotting the score at 1. Robey singled to center later in the inning, advanced to third on a Stearns single and scored on a passed ball, giving SOMD Elite a 2-1 lead after three complete innings.
The score held until SOMD Elite hit two solo homers by Quade and Clarke to extend the lead to 4-1. Elite Baseball answered with a homer in the bottom of the fifth, but could get no closer. SOMD Elite added an insurance run in the top of the sixth when Cameron walked and scored on a Bowling single. Pesante scattered three hits while striking out 10 batters over six innings for the win.
In the semifinal game, SOMD Elite faced the New Jersey Thunder, the current 2016 New Jersey 12-U USSSA state champion.
The Thunder jumped out to a 5-0 lead after the first inning, the largest deficit of the tourna- ment for Elite. However, in the top of the second, after a Bowling single, Pesante deposited a homer to left-center for a 5-2 score. Later that same inning, Williamson singled and Clarke launched his second homer of the tournament to make the score 5-4 Thunder.
The Thunder responded by scoring four more runs in the bottom of the second to grab an 8-4 lead. Hill’s solo shot and Cameron’s two-run homer in the third pulled Elite within 8-7. In the back-and-forth affair, the Thunder scored two more runs to end the third at 10-7.
In the fourth, after a walk to Clarke and a Zumpano single, Robey doubled, scoring Zumpano. A Stearns single and Hill’s three-run home propelled Elite to a 12-10 lead. Whitney then homered after Hill for a 13-10 Elite lead.
In the fifth, Borges singled to right and Pesante homered to left for a 15-10 score. Williamson followed with a solo shot to make the score 16-10. The Thunder responded with three runs in the bottom of the fifth to make the score 16-13.
Elite put the game away in the top of the sixth when Stearns and Hill singled and Stearns scored on an error. Cameron put the icing on the cake with a two-run homer to center for the final score of 19-13. Hill and Cameron paced Elite with two homers and 4 RBIs each. Each team pounded the others pitching with a combined 41 hits.
In the championship game, Elite faced the only undefeated team in the tournament, the No. 6-seeded Red Devils, who had only allowed one run in the previous three elimination games.
Elite found themselves in familiar territory, down 3-0 after three first-inning Red Devils solo homers. Elite responded in the second with back-to-back homers by Bowling and Quade and later tied the score at 3 on a Robey single scoring Williamson. A Stearns double later that inning scored Clarke and Robey for a 5-3 lead.
Elite held the Red Devils and then scored four more runs in the top of the third. After a Whitney single and stolen base, a Cameron single scored Whitney. Pesante then smoked a two-run homer scoring Borges, who had reached first on a walk, making the score 9-3. A Stearns solo homer in the top of the fourth padded the lead to 10-3.
Elite tacked on an insurance run in the top of the sixth when Cameron singled, stole second and scored on Bowling’s line drive off the right=field fence for an 11-4 lead. The Red Devils tried to rally in the bottom of the sixth, scoring four runs, but came up short with the final score 11-8.
Both teams combined for 27 hits and 12 extra-base hits. Borges twirled a complete game with four strikeouts for Elite.
Elite finished the tournament 10-1, recording 43 home runs for the tournament and finishing the year with a 48-7-1 overall record. Elite is managed by Dennis Hill. Assistant coaches are Steve Zumpano, Tommy Clarke, Dale Quade and Tim Cameron.
SOMD Elite is a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) organization. For more information on Southern Maryland Elite, go to facebook. com/SOMDElite/ or contact manager Dennis Hill at email@example.com or 240-2984593.
In the bottom row, from left, are Nathan Robey, Tyler Quade, Tyler Williamson, Ryan Clarke and Nick Stearns. In the middle row are Bryce Whitney, left, Aden Hill, Alex Borges, Blake Pesante, Shawn Cameron, Chet Bowling and Derek Zumpano. In the back row are Steve Zumpano, left, Dale Quade, Dennis Hill, Tim Cameron and Tommy Clarke.