Baby 'Canes Paving Path

MARIETTA, Ga.--Perfect Game's World Wood Bat summer championship series wound down in suburban Atlanta with a familiar team finishing on top. The 18-and-under wood bat tournament, featuring more than 120 teams from across the United States and Canada, concluded with a pair of Florida entries meeting in the title game.

The South Florida-based Florida Bombers beat the Florida Magic 5-2, marking the fourth time the Bombers have won the tournament in the past five years.

The Bombers pitching staff was led by a pair of Miami-bound righthanders, Alex Koronis and Anthony Nalepa. Nalepa was named most valuable pitcher thanks to 12 1⁄3 innings in which he allowed four hits, a walk and 15 strikeouts.

The top underclassmen who played integral roles for the Bombers were first baseman Eric Hosmer, a rising junior from Miami's American Heritage High and rising senior outfielders Kentrail Davis (Theodore, Ala., High) and Mike McGee (Port St. Lucie, Fla., High).

Magic rising senior third baseman Gary Gustavson (Palm Beach Central High) went 13-for-29 on his way to MVP honors.

The event was deep in Southeast-based clubs, and the Bombers dispatched one of just a few strong West Coast teams in attendance, the ABD Bulldogs.

ABD's top two pitchers--rising seniors Cole Cook (Palisades Charter High, Los Angeles) and Kyle O'Campo (Poly High, Riverside, Calif.)--did not make the trip to Marietta, but rising junior lefthander Sean Tierney filled in admirably on ABD's staff. The 6-foot-4, 180-pound Tierney might not have been atop scouts' follow lists entering the summer but he's come on strong. He pitched at 87 mph, touching 91 mph from a loose, clean and easy three-quarters arm slot.

"Well he was certainly one of the nice surprises this week," said a scout with a National League organization.

Tierney, a Clover Hill High (Midlothian, Va.) product, has committed to Virginia.

ABD shortstop Nick Noonan put on another strong performance at the 18-and-under event. A lefthanded hitter with good actions in the field, Noonan displayed an ability to make consistent sharp contact as well as an advanced hitter's acumen.

"You really have to see him play for a while to appreciate how good he could be," said a scout with an American League club. "He maintains his balance well at the plate, and seems to have a nose for the strike zone. He's just a really good all-around hitter."