JUPITER, Fla. — Perfect Game's 2010 World Wood Bat World Championship and the 2002 Major League Baseball all-star game both came down to pitching. . . or a lack thereof. Chet Lemon's Juice and the Dirtbags opted to become 2010 WWBA Co-Champions after a 3-3 tie through eight innings left both teams thin on pitching after a long weekend of games.
Despite the anti-climatic finish—which included a 10-minute conference at home plate before a final decision was made—both teams were happy with the outcome.
"Co-Champions? Who cares. Both teams played great and both teams deserve to be champions," Lemon said. "I'm extremely proud of my guys because they fought the whole time.
"After a while, you have to say to yourself, 'Are you going to take a chance?' All it takes is one throw, one pitch, for something to happen to one of these kids where, for the rest of my life, I have to worry about that. And even if it was on the other side and something like that happened, that's something that's on your conscious. I've been doing this forever and the most important thing is the kids. . . I'm never going to put my desire for a championship ahead of these kids."
The Juice were even thinner on pitching because they had to play a play-in game to make the playoffs.
Chet Lemon's Juice pitched righthander Trey Oest (Durant HS, Plant City, Fla.) and lefthander Corey Stump (Lakeland (Fla.) Christian), who had already had thrown six innings this weekend, and righthander Luke Weaver (Deland, Fla., HS), who had already thrown seven.
The Dirtbags got a complete game shutout from submarine righthander Dylan Dickens (Person HS, Roxboro, N.C.) in the semi-final, upsetting a loaded FTB Mizuno/Cardinals Scout Team squad. Dickens' fastball sat in the mid-70s but had lots of funk to it. he also mixed in a sweeping, low-60s curveball that kept Cardinal hitters off balance. He then worked three innings of the final game before it was called. Afterwards, he was pretty blunt in describing how he felt after the day's performance.
"Awesome," Dickens said. "All my hard work has been paying off."
The Dirtbags also got work from righthanders Benton Moss (Rocky Mount, N.C., HS) and Logan Jernigan (South Johnston HS, Four Oaks, N.C.), but head coach Andy Partin also had his players' health in mind when they completed eight innings.
"Both of us are not out here at all to hurt kids' arms," Partin said. "We're trying to the right thing. I know everyone wants a champion, but I think it's the right decision. We're just excited to be co-champs."
While there were many talented scout teams put together for this tournament, both teams in the championship game ended up being regional teams. Chet Lemon's Juice is comprised of players from Central Florida and the Dirtbags are mainly from North Carolina. Lemon said having a team where the players are familiar with one another helps in a tournament like this.
"Teams are always going to be better," Lemon said. "You get a group of all-star players and play them against a great baseball team, the team is always going to be able to do things better. They run plays, they run bunt plays, they know each other and it means more."
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