BA/Perfect Game Wood Bat Championship
Day Three Report
By Allan Simpson
JUPITER, Fla.--From an original field of 64, eight teams remained alive as the Perfect Game/Baseball America World Wood Bat championship headed into the final day of play on Monday.
The eight included three teams with 5-0 records as well as pre-tournament favorite Team Florida USA '02--all of which, coincidentally, are on the same side of the bracket.
Team Florida, which assembled an elite roster of players from all over the country, including No. 1-ranked prospect Scott Kazmir, narrowly won both its games in bracket play Sunday. It beat Team California Combined 9-4 in nine innings in the Round of 32 and edged the East Florida Scout Team 1-0 in the Round of 16.
Lefthander Mark Romanczuk (St. Mark's High, Newark, Del.) and righthander Mike Pelfrey (Augusta, Kan., High) combined to blank the East Coast Scout Team. The 6-foot-6, 190-pound Pelfrey's fastball was clocked at 94 mph.
It's been an uphill struggle for Team Florida, which didn't even qualify for bracket play until the completion of a game Sunday morning that had been suspended by rain Friday. Team Florida and the Pinellas (Fla.) Phillies tied that game 2-2, and Pinellas was awarded the No. 1 seed from that pool on the basis of a 2-0-1 record, while Team Florida (1-1-1) advanced as a No. 2 seed. Only the top two teams in each pool advanced to the 32-team championship bracket.
The tournament's three remaining unbeaten teams were the Bill Hood (La.) Broncos, who reached the quarter-finals with a 4-0 victory over the previously-unbeaten Yellow Jackets from nearby West Palm Beach; Team Florida USA '03, which edged the Tampa Yankees 1-0; and the Dulin's (Tenn.) Dodgers, who defeated Hofball from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., 12-1.
Righthander Tyler Kimmons (Mandeville, La., High) hurled the shutout for Bill Hood, while righthander Eric Hurley (Wolfson High, Jacksonville), the No.2 -rated prospect in the Draft Class of 2004, pitched Florida '03 to its narrow win over the Tampa Yankees.
Dulin's was scheduled to meet Team Florida '03 in one quarterfinal game Monday, while Team Florida '02 was to face off with Bill Hood in another, with Kazmir in all likelihood scheduled to start for the Florida '02 team. Kazmir worked three hitless innings Friday in his only previous appearance in the tournament.
Should both Team Floridas win their quarterfinal games, they would meet in the semifinals.
Underdogs Have Their Day
Upsets were the order of the day Sunday, especially on the opposite side of the bracket, which had three No. 2 seeds and a No. 1 seed--the Dallas Tigers, which had only a 1-1-1 record in pool play--moving through to the quarterfinals.
Three previously unbeaten teams were victims in the string of upsets. The Seminole (Fla.) Scout Team defeated the All-Star (Pa.) Baseball Academy 3-1; Dallas beat the Columbia (Texas) Angels 8-5 and Hoosier Bat from Indiana surprised the Bama Bombers 8-1. The other team to advance was the Miami Sluggers, who defeated Kyle Champman of Houston, 7-5.
The most shocking upset of the day, though, was East Cobb (Ga.) losing 5-1 to the Tampa Yankees in an opening-round game of bracket play. East Cobb, comprised largely of players which had won the Connie Mack (17-18) World Series and AAU 16-year-old national title, had breezed through its three pool-round games.
Team California '02 also fell in an opening-round game to Hofball, a team made up exclusively of players from Fort Lauderdale's Westminster Academy--a national power in its own right but not one expected to contend in a tournament of this magnitude. Only about a quarter of the Hofball team were seniors.
Technically, high school teams are not allowed to enter out-of-season tournaments intact, so the team changed its name to Hofball in recognition of Rich Hofman, possibly the nation's most successful high school coach.
Hofball met its match in the Round of 16, though, as it fell to the Dulin's Dodgers, a team comprised of many of the top high school players from western Tennessee, notably Germantown High, a perennial power. Twice this year, the Dodgers lost in the championship game at major national competitions--the AAU 18-year-old national championship and the United States Specialty Sports Association (USSSA) 18-year-old national championship.
To win the PG/BA championship, a team will have to win three games on Monday. The championship game is scheduled for 1:30 p.m.
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