JUPITER, Fla. – While it may have taken a little bit longer than anyone thought at the beginning of the summer, the EvoShield Canes won their eighth ring in program history.
The Canes had one of the most dominating performances imaginable in the Perfect Game WWBA Championship as the pitching staff had a 0.14 earned run average while the hitters put up a .356 batting average over the course of the eight-game tournament.
The Canes outscored their opponents 51-1 and didn’t win a game by less than three runs. The tournament was capped on Monday afternoon at Roger Dean Stadium with a 9-0 win over Team EvoShield, our predominately U16 age group, which posted a 7-1-1 record in the tournament.
“We came here and thought (winning) it was attainable,” head coach and GM Jeff Petty said. “Getting out of your bracket, you have a shot. We haven’t had that opportunity this year as we’ve had a lot of letdowns this summer. I sensed some of the guys who have been around a lot got tired of (losing). The whole team as a unit got tired of it and they weren’t going to let us have any letdowns.”
The EvoShield Canes won their third straight WWBA Championship in Jupiter, Fla., which isn’t something any program has done in the tournament’s 17-year history.
It all started by sweeping through pool play with a 4-0 record. After beginning the tournament on Thursday night with a comfortable 7-0 victory over Baseball Northwest, the Canes had their toughest game in pool play with a 3-0 victory over the Home Plate Chili Dogs.
The 5-0 win on Saturday against DBAT clinched the victory in the pool punching the ticket into bracket play. The Canes wrapped up pool play on Sunday morning defeating PG Team Northeast before winning round of 16 and 8 games over Chicago Scouts Association and Ontario Blue Jays.
“There’s nothing like this. We’ve had such a tough summer,” catcher Brad Debo, who was on last year’s championship-winning team as well, said. “There was a lot of pressure on us after this summer. We came through though and we got it.”
That meant the Canes were in the final four of the tournament for the fourth straight season with GBG Marucci the first opponent of the day. MVP Pitcher Matt Manning threw a complete game shutout in the 8-0 win in five innings. The victory set up the all Canes showdown.
The EvoShield Canes are current seniors with six Perfect Game All-Americans and seven players ranked as one of the top 50 prospects in the country. Team EvoShield is largely juniors with a few 2016 players and four 2018 players as well. Team EvoShield’s time is coming and it was the Canes’ time to win a championship.
Tennessee Volunteers commitment Garrett Stallings retired the first seven hitters of the game before giving up a one-out single in the third inning to JeVon Ward. Stallings, however, would not let a runner past first base in the game. The right-hander allowed only one more hit in his five-inning complete game and didn’t walk a hitter while striking out eight.
Offensively, it was the best championship tournament the Canes have had this year with the 2016 class. Six different hitters drove in runs in the Canes’ seven-run fourth inning. After adding two more in the top of the fifth, the EvoShield Canes were in position for the run rule.
Stallings, pitching the 20th straight scoreless inning for the Canes in a row, got the final out of the game on a ground ball to Joe Rizzo at third base, who made the play to start the dog pile.
“I was just kind of locked in,” Stallings said. “As soon as I was told, I was getting focused. I knew they had an unbelievable team and I was just going out there and attacking them.”
The pitching staff was remarkable and it’s hard to figure out which stats are the most impressive. In 50 innings pitch, the 12-man staff allowed just one run on 15 hits. The group walked 14, struck out 68 and had a batting average against of just .093.
“Some key additions we had on our pitching staff allowed us to really feel comfortable and confident,” pitching coach Jason Mills said. “We came down here and felt like we had the best pitching staff from top to bottom in this tournament. Those kids went out there and proved that we did. They were very special every game.”
Offensively, the team had 18 hits for extra bases in the eight games played with 29 walks against 37 strikeouts. Seven players had at least four RBIs while seven full-time players hit .375 or higher for the tournament.
It was the EvoShield Canes’ time to shine after closing out the showcase baseball season with the third straight World Championship in Jupiter but it would be remiss to not congratulate Team EvoShield on its run to the title game.
Next year, it’s their year. #ChasingNine
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