The Boys of Summer will again be host to the Freedom Classic tournament over the July 4th holiday and are looking for top level teams to compete against some of the best travel teams and organizations in the country. TBS has followed and provided coverage of this well run tournament for the past 4 years and agree that this is one to mark on the calendar as a must attend. Each year various powerhouse teams always seem to gather at this event and this year appears to be no different, with the likes of the Beaver Valley Reds, Lake Erie Bulldogs, Houston Lightning, Ohio Elite, and the So Cal National Travel team already registered to compete. Past years have seen the Schaumburg Seminoles, Indiana Bulls, South Oakland A's, and Dallas Yankees in attendance, to name a few. Tournament information can be found at www.freedomclassictournament.com . TBS plans to provide up to date coverage of all the top games, and also an in-depth look at some of the top teams in attendance.
- By Ernie Rapiere
The 2010 13U STC Sluggers (Black) is a new team formed this year. This is an Elite team, coached by Gilbert Sauceda and assembled from a core of very solid core of players merged from last year's DC Sluggers, a team known for its fiercely competitive play. While the STC Sluggers (Black) is loaded with great players from the top to bottom of their order, they are lead by a nucleus of Elite players - Gil Sauceda, Cole Danielson, and Isaias Torres.
Gil Sauceda (pictured left) is a left hand pitcher who commands great control of all of his pitches. Thus far in the first part of the 2010 season, he as pitched a total of 20 innings in 6 games, and built a record of 4 wins, no losses, and 1 save. During these appearances, he struck out 22 batters, gave up only 4 walks, while allowing 5 hits, and only 1 earned run. He is also a versatile athlete who plays all positions in both the infield and outfield. Plus, he can also fill-in in crunch situations at catcher. He has excellent speed and adds the intangibles of outstanding baseball instincts. He is also their leadoff hitter.
Cole Danielson (pictured right) is Sluggers’ 3rd Baseman. He is also an excellent pitcher and catcher. He is an outstanding hitter who brings great power with the ability of hitting to the gaps and the alleys combined with consistency to perform in clutch situations. Thus far in the early season, he is batting at an average of .421 with an on-base rate of .565 while slugging at a rate of .487.
Finally, Isaias Torres (pictured left) is also one of the STC Sluggers leading pitchers. He has been a standout in the travel baseball for quite sometime. When he is not on the mound, you will likely see him behind the plate as he is an excellent catcher. He also is an excellent hitter, who combines both power and average. Thus far this 2010 season, he is batting at an average of .391 while reaching base at a rate of .495 and slugging at a .563 rate.
- By Ernie Rapiere
The STC Sluggers are building a solid slate of teams to compete with the best on a national basis. This year, the will field an Elite team that is loaded with solid athletes. Sluggers baseball teams are spun from the Sluggers Training Center (STC) located in Palm Dessert, California. This organization is now going into its 3rd year of operation. STC is lead by Patrick Evans, who was drafted in the 1994 Major League Baseball draft and played in the Cleveland Indians and Baltimore Orioles organizations. Patrick has been a successful American Legion and high school baseball coach before moving to STC where he is now the managing director of STC which trains and develops athletes for both baseball and softball.
As part of their player development programs, STC fields teams that complete on a national basis. These teams are made up of serious players who want to compete on baseball’s highest levels. In 2010 STC Slugger teams will compete in the 12U, 13U, and 16U age groups. This year, STC will field two 13U Sluggers teams, Red and a Black (Elite).
The 2010 13U STC Sluggers “Red” team will return many of last year’s 12U Sluggers players that had a successful year including a trip to Cooperstown, along with finishing #2 in the finals of the 2009 USTBA World-series National Division Championship in San Diego.
The 2010 13U STC Sluggers "Black" (Pictured Left) is a new team formed this year. This is an Elite team, coached by Gilbert Sauceda. It carries a 13 man roster consisting of former STC players including; Trevor Hampton Jake Jiannoni and Andrew Bash combined with the merging of the core from the 2009 12U DC Sluggers. Their new players include: Trent Covel, Cole Danielson, Jose Felix, Sean McGee, Sabino Ramirez, Gilbert Sauceda, Isaias Torres, and from other local teams Sabino Ramirez, Fernando Vega, and Dominic Velazquez.
While the STC Sluggers (Black) is loaded with great players from the top to bottom of their order, they are lead by a nucleus of Elite players - Cole Danielson, Isaias Torres, and Gil Sauceda (Pictured left to right in photo below).
Looking into the 2010 season, the 13U STC Sluggers Black (Elite) started play in October of 2009. Thus far, they have competed in five tournaments during the Fall of 2009. In these events, they started out with 2nd and 3rd place finishes, and then came together to win their last three tournaments. They will kick off the new year in January. They expect to compete in several Triple Crown events this year, both in Southern California and nationally; including Spring Championship in Mesa (AZ), the Slumpbuster in Omaha, and the Triple Crown Nationals in Steamboat Springs (CO).
Team Phenom ranked #5 by TravelballSelect.com was in a league of their own at the USSSA Winter Nationals held in Gilbert, Arizona at the Big League Dreams Baseball Complex. Team Phenom (CA) went a perfect 6-0 on their way to the Championship and capped it all off with a 4-0 victory over Unleashed (TX) in the finals. Team Phenom defeated the AZ Tigers 15-0 to get to the championship game Unleashed defeated the Stetson Hills Stealth 6-5 in the quarterfinals and the Arsenal 6-1 in the semi-finals.
Team Phenom is now 29-2 this fall season with six tournament championships including the Thanksgiving Super NIT, the Veterans Day NIT, the CA fall state championships and now the USSSA Winter Nationals. With this win, Team Phenom will receive a berth to the Elite 32 World Series in Orlando, Florida in the summer of 2010.
It was a tough road for the finalists of the 13U USSSA Winter Nationals held in Gilbert, Arizona at the Big League Dreams Baseball Complex. Team Arizona made it to the championship game by defeating the South Texas Hustlers 3-2 in the quarterfinals and the AZ Blaze in the 10-0 in the semi-finals. The Cabernet (CA) baseball team defeated the Predhawks (CA) 3-0 in the quarterfinals behind the strong arm of Jake Sola. The Cabernet offense came alive in the semi-final game against the AZ Broncos putting up nine runs en route to a 9-1 win. Bryce Dyrda started the game, giving up one run in the first inning before settling in and never looking back.
These two teams had met before in the pool play round with Team Arizona putting up big numbers against the Cabernet pitching winning the game 14-6. The Championship game is well, the Championship game and every great team knows that in the finals, everything changes. Team Cabernet defeated Team Arizona 4-3 in the finals to take home the trophy and the berth to the Elite 32 World Series held in Orlando, Florida in the summer of 2010.
13U Jake Sola (above) helped lead his Cabernet Baseball team to a Championship at the USSSA Winter Nationals in Gilbert, Arizona
It was the Nicholas “Nico” Hoerner show in the semi-final game between the Lamorinda Monarchs from Moraga, California and the AZ Blaze. Starting on the mound for the Monarchs, Hoerner pitched one of the best games of his life, throwing a no-hitter while striking out nine and walking only two en route to a 6-0 Monarch victory. Hoerner didn’t allow a Blaze batter to reach second base until the last out of the game in the 6th inning.
The Monarchs used timely hitting to push two runs across in the 4th inning off of Blaze starting pitcher Tommy Martinez. Jason Fackrell was hit by a pitch, Austin Garcia singled and Isaiah Berry singled, leading the way for Nico Hoerner and Steven Eldridge to pick up back to back sac flies.
The Monarchs struck again in the top of the 5th inning thanks to back-to-back-to-back singles. Quinn Cambra led off the hitting attack followed by Kevin Sandri and Jason Fackrell. Isaiah Berry finished out the scoring in the inning and the game with a sacrifice fly bringing the score to 6-0.
It was definitely a team effort for the Monarch offense; every Monarch starter had either a hit or an RBI. The Monarchs are set to face off against the AZ Revolution in the Finals, a team in which they defeated 9-5 earlier in the tournament.
Brandon Johnson pitched wonderfully in relief for the Blaze, keeping them in the ball game. Nico Hoerner’s arm was just too strong for the Blaze offense on this day.
12U Lamorinda Monarchs Starting Pitcher Nico Hoerner
12U AZ Blaze getting warmed up before their game with the Lamorinda Monarchs
- By Ernie Rapiere
The Temecula Irish organization is now moving into its seventh year of existence is coached and managed by Mike Howard. This year’s 2010 12U Irish team is the second round of Irish teams that he has developed over the past decade. The first round of players from Mike’s former Irish team is now playing high school baseball. Mike started working his first generation team when they were 10 years old. His mission, then and now, is to help his players develop and grow into mature, well rounded players – ready to move on to high school competition. Mike’s also emphasizes a commitment to develop local players, preparing them with the skills to play at their best – rather than to recruit top athletes from remote areas.
With this philosophy, it is no surprise that this year’s 12U Irish team has played together since they were 8 year olds – and all come from towns within the Temecula and Murrieta vicinities. The Irish returns all eleven players from their 2009 11U team. They are typically a smaller team than most of their opponents. But, they are known for being a scrappy team filled from top to bottom with players with excellent speed that know how to run the bases. Their trademark is their tenacious defense, coupled their uncanny ability to steal bases.
Having taken a few weeks off, the 12U Irish will resume their 2010 season during late January. They will be looking to build on the successes they have achieved in prior years. Last year, they posted a record of 73-29-1 while wining 5 tournaments.
Thus far, they are already off to a good start as they finished 2nd in the 2009 Triple Crown Fall Nationals in Las Vegas, losing only to their rival Carlsbad Raptors in the finals. This year, they will play in several Triple Crown events within the South California area. Also, their goal is to, once again, qualify and compete in the upcoming Summer and Fall National Championships including such events as the Triple Crown Summer and Fall Nationals that will be held in Steamboat Springs (CO) and in Las Vegas (NV).
- By Ernie Rapiere
In Highland, California, is the home of the Inland Empire Elite (IE Elite) baseball organization. This is located in the heart of that area in the country where you consistently find some of the best baseball in the USA. This Organization was started by Doug Baker along with co-founders, John Darby and Mike Carpentier during the 2008 baseball season.
Initially, the IE Elite organization fielded only two teams. But, in just two and a half years, they have grown dramatically. They now field 14 youth baseball teams with over 150 players and over 600 families participating. Still, this growth is showing no signs of tapering off – very impressive for such a short period of time. This growth shows that people in this area love baseball, and also respect the work that the IE Elite organization is doing. Why? The IE Elite leadership team follows a strong principle of building their teams by developing local players fielded from areas within a 15 mile radius of the IE club facilities. Even in big events, they compete with their core players - as opposed to loading their roster with “Big Guns” from remote areas. And with this loyal principle, they have built an impressive string of championships that has now grown to a total 73 as they move into 2010. This is also an impressive feat.
This year, the IE Elite is taking a big new step forward. In addition to their line-up of fine baseball teams, they will field four girls’ softball teams. These teams will complete in the age groups; 10’s, 12’s, 14’s, and 16’s. In addition, the IE Elite will field eight baseball teams that will compete within each age group from 8 to 16 years old. Following is a brief look at the 10U IE Elite baseball team as they prepare to resume play at Big League Dreams Park (West Covina, CA) on Saturday, Jan 2nd.
10U - The 10U IE Elite, coached by Chris Montanez and Rob Schubert, is already off to a very strong start in 2010. At the close of December’s play, they held a 24-2 record that included 4 Championships. In keeping with their organizational philosophy of developing local athletes, they are returning 13 players from their 2009, 9U team that finished with a 60-9 record. In addition, Doug Haugh has been added to this year’s roster. While some may characterize this team as undersized, they are fast and scrappy on both offense and defense. They hit well, and they run the bases well. On offense, they are lead by a string of excellent hitters, who are hitting with averages above the .400 level. These include Christian Kirtley, Michael Carpentier Jr. (a 9U playing up), Zuko Tillman, Keller Raborn, Jaelan Phillips, Robert Gonzalez, Justin Schubert, and Blake Coker. The top four on this list have batting averages well above the .500 level.
This group is lead by Tyler Montanez (pictured left), their catcher (pictured below), and Christian Kirtley, who is hitting at .600 after 70 at bats. Four of their players have already slammed homeruns; including Jaelan Phillips (with 4) and Zuko Tillman (with 2).
Their pitchers will include Austin Warner, Keller Raborn, Justin Schubert, Zuko Tillman, and Robert Gonzalez.
During 2010, this team expects to play more than 100 games this year. Thus far this season, they have already won Triple Crown’s “Parade of Lights” (Lake Havasu City, AZ). This win qualified them for Triple Crown World Series events. In addition, they will play a number of upcoming Triple Crown events starting with the Martin Luther King Classic during mid January, along with the Las Vegas Fall Nationals.
The AZ Broncos came into their first bracket play game as the #1 seed and undefeated at 4-0. Riding the arm of Adrian Zubia the Broncos stayed undefeated with a 6-1 win over one of their rivals, the AZ Blaze Blue.
Zubia pitched three innings giving up just one run on three hits. Tommy Halter shut down the Blaze Blue bats over the last three innings to secure the win and a berth in the semi-finals for the Broncos. Zubia and Halter used their off-speed pitches to keep the Blaze hitters off balance and off the bases.
The Broncos offense put a five-spot on the scoreboard in the top of the 2nd inning with Connor Rochon and Tommy Halter hitting back to back doubles. Adrian Zubia would help out his own cause when he singled home Christian Glosser. The Broncos offense stayed quiet until the top of the 5th inning when Christian Glosser singled to left field to bring home Tommy Halter. Halter finished the day going 3-3 with two RBIs, Glosser finished 1-2 with a walk and an RBI. The Blaze Blue were lead by Jordan Sherwood 2-3 with an RBI and Eric Whiteside 1-3 with a single.
The AZ Broncos head to the semi-finals with a perfect 5-0 record. The only team left in the 13U age group without a loss. If their offense can keep up it’s hot hitting ways, look for the Broncos to take home the USSSA Winter Nationals Championship and a berth to the Elite 32 World Series.
13U AZ Broncos starting pitcher Adrian Zubia
13U AZ Broncos vs. AZ Blaze Blue shaking hands after the game