North East Baseball National dominates at Upperclass (From Perfect Game website www.perfectgame.org)
PHOENIX – Just two days into the four-day Perfect Game West MLK Upperclass Championship, the writing was already on the wall. The feeling of invincibility surrounding the Hudson, Mass.-based North East Baseball National squad developed after only two games that totaled only eight innings. The final scores: 16-0 and 12-0. What could possibly go wrong?
Nothing, as it turned out. North East Baseball National easily earned the Upper’s No. 1 seed by outscoring its three pool-play opponents by a combined 32-2. It then whipped three playoff opponents by a combined 13-3 in action Monday at the Maryvale Baseball Park MLB spring training complex, and that included a 5-1 victory over No. 6 All-Star Baseball Academy in the championship game late Monday afternoon.
The Nationals (6-0-0) scored single runs in each of the third, fifth and sixth innings and put-up a two-spot in the fourth on their way to the championship game win; All-Star Baseball Academy (5-1-0) put up its only run in the top of the fifth.
“We just had a great roster,” North East Baseball general manager Jeff Sullivan said after Monday’s championship game victory. “We’ve had some good rosters in the past and they were all great kids, but with this one they just knew from the start that they were going to win it. You never know, especially with a team that is so talented, but they knew from the start, and when you play knowing you’re going to win, good things happen.”
2017 right-hander Trey Dillard gave up one earned run on four hits with eight strikeouts and one walk in five innings on the mound in the championship game, and 2018 righty Dexter Jordan Jr. finished-up with two innings of no-hit, shutout work, striking out one and walking one.
NEB National totaled six hits in the win, led by Christian Fedko and Jose Gonzalez: Fedko was 2-for-3 with a double, an RBI and run scored and Gonzalez one-upped him with a double, a single, an RBI and a run scored. All-Star Baseball Academy, which totaled four hits, scored in the fifth when a Chase Hamilton ground-out chased a run home.
North East Baseball National hit an impressive .359 as a team in its six games, and 20 of its 55 hits went for extra-bases; thanks to their 28 runs in their first two games, the Nationals averaged just over seven runs per game.
The pitching really stood out, with the coaching staff using 10 pitchers to work 36 innings, and they allowed only five earned runs (0.97 ERA) on 17 hits with 53 strikeouts and 13 walks. Only three of those 10 pitchers worked as many as five innings.
“These kids, they just played together from the start of this whole thing,” Sullivan said. “It was really our pitching that put us in a good spot every game; we weren’t down a run the whole entire tournament. Our bats were so good, our defense was so good, but it was really our arms that put us in a good spot every time.”
The Nationals’ Kyler Fedko, a 6-foot-1, 180-pound No. 381-ranked 2018 middle-infielder from Gibsonia, Pa., who has committed to the University of Connecticut, was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player. He went 11-for-16 (.688) at the plate, with a home run, triple and a double, eight RBI and seven runs scored while posting a 1.729 OPS.
The All-Stars’ Jose Aldaz, a 5-foot-11, 195-pound uncommitted 2017 right-hander from Phoenix, was named the Most Valuable Pitcher. Aldaz pitched a complete-game six-hitter, allowing one earned run while striking out five and walking two in his team’s 2-1 win over No. 2 Pacific Northwest Regional Baseball 2017 Royal in the semifinals. He had pitched previously in the tournament and finished with a line of 7 2/3 innings, one earned run (0.91 ERA), six hits, six strikeouts and two walks.
“It’s tough when kids don’t know each other but a lot of these kids had played together before and they knew coming in that they had a good chance to take this one; I’m just really proud of these kids,” Sullivan said. “Every single one of these kids has a chance to play pro ball, and I know that’s a goal for all of them. So, whether it’s through the draft after high school or after college, everyone has a chance. And they’re all great kids.”
While No. 1 North East Baseball advanced out of the quarterfinals and into the semifinals with a 2-0 win over No. 9 Prospects National Team, and No. 2 Pacific Northwest Regional Baseball 2017 Royal did the same thing with a 4-1 win over No. 7 Aggies Baseball, there were a couple of upsets in the quarters.
No. 6 All-Star Baseball Academy 18u dumped No. 3 Pacific Northwest Regional Baseball 2017 Navy, 7-2, in one of the upsets, and the No. 5 CAB Soldiers Upperclass topped the No. 4 San Diego Padres Scout Team, 11-5, in the other.