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Baseball America tops Team California in finals

October 30, 2000

By Allan Simpson

JUPITER, Fla.—Baseball America pushed over the winning run on a bases-loaded walk by Henry Gutierrez with two outs in the sixth inning to edge Team California 2-1 and win the Baseball America/Perfect Game World Wood Bat Championship Monday afternoon.

Gutierrez (Florida Air Academy) walked on a 3-2 pitch by Team California sophomore righthander Xavier Paul (Archbishop Rummel High, Slidell, La.), who came on in relief of starter Moses Kopmar (Berkeley, Calif., High) in the sixth with two runners on. Paul walked the next two batters.

Team California took a 1-0 lead to the sixth, but Baseball America rallied on a leadoff single by tournament MVP Billy Paganetti, a walk by Landon Powell (Apex, N.C., High) on a disputed 3-2 checked swing and an RBI single by Mike Sweeney (Riverdale Baptist High, Chesapeake, Md.) to tie the game. Two outs later, Paul walked in the winning run.

Lefthander Scott Kazmir (Cy Falls High, Houston) came on in relief for Baseball America in the top of the seventh and struck out the side to end the game. Kazmir had worked six innings of a 9-0 Baseball America win on Sunday to open bracket play.

Sweeney, normally a first baseman, started the championship game on the mound for Baseball America and left after two innings, trailing 1-0. J.J. Hardy (Sabino High, Tucson) opened the game for Team California with a double and scored on a groundout by Chris Carter (De la Salle High, Walnut Creek, Calif.). That turned out to be the only run for Team California as righthander Chas Taylor (Westlake High, Austin), who pitched a three-hit shutout in a 2-0 win against Team Ontario in a quarter-final game earlier Monday, won his second game of the day by working four more scoreless innings. He gave way to Kazmir, a fellow Texan who was clocked at 92 mph. Baseball America got outstanding pitching in its final five games—particularly from Kazmir and Taylor—allowing just three runs.

The championship game matched the pre-tournament favorites.

Team California had gone through the tournament undefeated, with only a first 1-1 tie with Team Ontario marring an otherwise perfect record. California (6-1-1) won its two earlier games Monday, defeating the North Carolina Warhawks 6-5 in extra innings and the Southwest Florida scout team 2-1.

Hardy won the semi-final game for Team California, pitching a complete-game four-hitter.

BA's lone setback was a 7-1 loss in pool play to the Treasure Coast (Fla.) Cardinals, who were the only team in the tournament to post a 4-0 record in pool play. The Cardinals lost in the opening round of bracket play, however, to the North Carolina Warhawks.

Paganetti (Galena High, Reno, Nev.), who played right field for the Baseball America team, went 10-for-23 with six doubles and seven RBIs to win tournament MVP honors. He is expected to be an early first-round pick in the 2001 draft.

The BA team was coached by Tampa Bay Devil Rays lefthander Jim Morris. He was assisted by Cincinnati Reds outfielder Dmitri Young, the older brother of BA center fielder Delmon Young (Camarillo, Calif., High), the top-rated high school prospect in the Class of 2003.

The East Cobb (Ga.) Astros finished third after dropping a 3-2 decision in the semi-finals to Baseball America. The winning run in that game scored in the sixth on a run-scoring single by Paganetti.

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