LAKELAND - The Rise of Team X
Team X continues to show it's progression in the travel baseball circuit as they not only put both of their programs into the playoff round but also went pretty deep with both and beat some good teams along the way.
Team X defeated perennial power Orlando Scorpions during pool play with USF commit Jimmy Herget on the mound. While the 2012 grad Herget can defeat almost any team he faces, Team X was certainly not a one man show this weekend and as able to show depth in their program and beat quality teams throughout the tournament.
Lance McCullers in a limited role
Lance McCullers, the phenom 2012 grad from Tampa Jesuit High School was slated to pitch if and when the Tampa Bay Warriors made it deep into the tournament. But the Perfect Game Memorial Weekend Champs didn't make it out of pool play. Therefore, McCullers wasn't able to pitch as much as anticipated. McCullers came in relief vs. Sarasota Baseball Club and although his fastball got up to 98mph, his team couldn't hold down Sarasota in the extra inning tiebreaker round. With a man on 3rd and 2 outs, McCullers younger brother (catching) tried to throw the runner out at 3B. His errant throw went just far enough to allow the winning run to score.
Look for McCullers to be a top 5 overall pick in the 2012 MLB Draft.
Powerhouses get Upset
Two teams that came into the tournament were the Florida Bombers and Orlando Scorpions. But both teams lost in the first round of the playoffs. The Bombers were missing their top 2 arms in this tournament, but nonetheless, were involved in a tie ball game when they got the Freshwater Storm pinch runner Oshea Jones into a run down between 3rd and home. On the throw to the plate, the catcher dropped the ball on the tag and the Freshwater Storm won in walkoff fashion.
The Scorpions Purple had a few of their better players leave to the PG National Showcase towards the end of the event, and lost to local rival the Orlando Reds. However, the Scorps lost to Team X in pool play round at or very near full strength.
Different Teams Getting Love
The Bombers and Scorpions are two of the elite programs in the country and that isn't changing anytime soon. As someone who runs a lot of tournaments and events, it can be refreshing to see the teams that get no love go deep and beat big teams.
It's parity and it's interesting to see.
Ostingers Baseball doesn't get any love at all, but they battled and outhit the Juice in the championship game.
Bullets Baseball also as they have attended multiple PW events and always show strong in pool play and fall just short.
Two young programs also made big noise in this event. Former All All American Prospects coach Frank Scaheffer has quickly built XCEL baseball into a program to take seriously. XCEL was the #1 overall seed in the 18U and went deep into the playoffs. Their 16U team also went deep into the playoffs.
Gatorball Baseball Academy has made some big strides in just a few years. Starting as a training and development facility for Gainesville area players, the academy has put more of a focus on travel baseball and has made big strides. Their 18U team was the #4 overall seed, and their 16U lost a heartbreaker to XCEL after leading 3-0 until the end of the game.
PAL rips through the Playoffs
Last year's PAL team was 16U playing up in the 18U event and they were runner ups This year, that same team is now 17U and they ripped through the playoffs, 10-run ruling a few teams along the way en route to the championship. This PAL team can compete with anyone in the country.