MARIETTA, GA. – Monday marked the end of a week long tournament, boasting 192 of the best high school summer travel teams from across the country. The event, hosted by Perfect Game, began July 8 and finished on July 14 with the Diamond Devils, a team made up of players from across the state of South Carolina, defeating the ABD Bulldogs 13-6 in the championship game.
The story of the week was rain, as almost daily, the schedule was plagued by delays or cancellations due to heavy downpour or thunderstorms. The event was originally scheduled to begin single-elimination tournament play on Saturday evening and continue all day Sunday and Monday, but rain washed out the entire day on Sunday, causing what seemed to be a logistical nightmare for the P.G. staff, and led to a Marathon day on Monday.
Realizing the eventual champion of the event would have to win five games on Monday to prevail, the tournament committee shortened all games leading up to the finals from seven innings to five–to save both time and arms for pitching.
The Diamond Devils would eventually outlast all of the competition, but did so not with pitching, but with pure power at the plate. The Devils scored almost 100 runs combined in the event. The offensive explosion was led by right fielder, Daniel Aldrich from Mount Pleasant, S.C. who hit four home runs in the tournament, including three on Monday. Two of those home runs came in the semifinals and included a grand slam. The last of Aldrich’s blasts was a long drive to deep left-center field to solidify the win in the championship game.
Aldrich’s home run came in the Devils’ most productive inning, in what proved to be the Bulldogs’ back breaker. Trailing by two in the bottom of the fourth, the Devils batted around, sending 12 men to the plate and scored seven runs.
Jake Zokan, a lefthanded pitcher from Columbia, S.C., got the win for the Devils in the game as he pitched three innings in relief, allowing only one run. Zokan is listed at 6-feet-1, 175 pounds but appears taller and is the early favorite to be the top prep lefty in the state of South Carolina for the 2009 class.
Both teams in the finals played almost 11 hours of baseball on Monday.