JUPITER, Fla.—Throughout the World Wood Bat Association World Championship, the EvoShield Canes pitchers dominated opposing hitters. They opened the tournament with a combined no-hitter, allowed just one run in eight games and got complete game shutouts in each of their final three games.
Propelled by that pitching and some timely hitting, the Canes won the tournament for an unprecedented third straight year. No other team has even won back-to-back titles in the event’s 15-year history.
Monday, the Canes defeated GBG Marucci, 8-0, in the semifinals, and then beat Team EvoShield (the program’s 17U team) in the championship game, 9-0.
With only catcher Brad Debo returning from last year’s team, coach Jeff Petty said he wanted to win with this team.
“They’re different from the last group,” he said. “I guess it makes us feel like we’ve been doing a good job for multiple years. But it’s a different group and it speaks volumes of how good our organization is from top to bottom with our coaches and our scouting staff and everyone that’s involved.”
Righthander Matt Manning (Sheldon High, Sacramento) was named the tournament’s most valuable pitcher. He threw a five-inning shutout Monday in the semifinals after throwing two scoreless innings in the no-hitter in the first game.
Catcher Brandon Martorano (Christian Brothers Academy, Lincroft, N.J.) took home most valuable player honors after hitting .400/.550/.800 with seven RBIs in eight games.
The championship game was an all-EvoShield affair, making for a stranger atmosphere for the Canes. Petty said before the game’s final inning, he gathered his team and told them to enjoy the moment, regardless of their opponent.
“I said, ‘Three more outs, enjoy it because this is not easy to do,”‘ Petty said. “Don’t let the fact that we’re playing someone in our own program or that it’s a blowout desensitize the accomplishment this is.”‘
The Canes did just that, rushing out of the dugout to form a dogpile in the infield.
After stranding several runners in the first few innings, the Canes broke through in the fourth inning. They scored seven runs, effectively putting the game out of reach.
Jimmy Titus (East Catholic High, Manchester, Conn.) started the rally with an RBI single to right field, and the hits just kept coming.
“I went up with three runners on base so I figured it was a good time to just put the ball in play and just try to get a run across, and it ended up happening,” he said. “Everything after that just started to pile on. Everyone was swinging the bat well. That was our second time through so everything was working for us.”
Righthander Garrett Stallings (Grassfield High, Chesapeake, Va.) was the beneficiary of the runs. He struck out seven batters, walked none and allowed just two hits in five innings.
Despite the final score, the game served as a showcase of the strength of the Canes program. Team EvoShield defeated Dallas Patriots Stout, 2-0, in the semifinals to set up the championship game. Many of them will move up to the Canes in next year’s tournament, where they will join the two class of 2017 Canes, lefthanders Andrew Abbott (Halifax County High, South Boston, Va.) and Ryan Webb (Pope High, Marietta, Ga.).
Martorano said Team EvoShield’s success shows how well the Canes are set up for the future.
“They’ve had a great season, they did a great job down here,” Martorano said. “No one really expected them to do this and for them to exceed expectations is phenomenal. For them to go out here and show how deep we are as an organization is just scary and I think everyone should take notice.”
And the Canes’ strength stretches even deeper into their system. Their 16U team made the semifinals of the WWBA Underclass World Championship earlier this month. Coach Rob Younce, who also serves as the Canes’ national director of scouting, said those players are ready to continue the tradition.
“That’s the fun thing about this, the baton passes class-to-class,” he said. “There’s a little bit of pressure on the next group, but they’re very capable and very, very talented. We feel very, very comfortable with the talent we have, not just 2017 class, but our ’18s and ’19s are very talented.
“It’s a great time to be a Cane right now.”