Postseason Bracket Takes Shape as Day Two of Pool Play at 15U Champs NC Concludes

Just three undefeated teams remain out of an original field of 20 as 15U Champs NC continues to deliver plenty of highlights.

On Tuesday at the USA Baseball National Training Complex in Cary, North Carolina, 20 teams competing for the gold at 15U Champs NC became just eight as pool play concluded. Five teams clinched berths in bracket play by winning their respective groups, and three other squads still have a shot at hardware after earning wildcard sports.

Beyond teams fighting for postseason spots, other teams fought and picked up first wins and there was no shortage of excitement on the second day of the tournament. Shutouts, walk-offs, offensive eruptions, and plenty of close games highlighted a terrific slate of 14 games as 15U Champs NC rolled on.

Dirtbags starter Tristan Lange hurled the first complete game and first shutout of the week as his squad moved to 2-0, racking up six strikeouts as he and defense held Team Elite to five hits in the game. Lange was efficient, throwing 85 pitches across seven strong innings - 56 of which were for strikes. While the Dirtbags fell to PRD later in the day, the loss did nothing to change the squad’s position at the top of the pool.

The Motor City Hit Dogs notched four runs in the fifth and sixth innings, respectively, to help pave their way to an 11-0 victory over Alpha Prime. Broder Katke led the way at the dish by going 3-for-4 with three RBIs while also scoring a run himself. While Katke plated runs, Peyton Price provided support on the mound as he hurled five frames of scoreless baseball. The Hit Dogs rounded out their pool play action with a 2-0-1 overall record and an automatic spot.

East Coast Sox dropped a late 6-5 contest to Top Tier Select by a score of 6-5, led in the loss by Joshua Tate’s game-high two RBIs. Despite falling a run short, East Coast’s two victories on Monday were enough to secure the team’s spot at the top of its pool.

With its 4-3 win over Excel, Stacked became the first team at 15U Champs NC to reach the three-win mark during the afternoon. The game was locked at one after four innings, until Liam Gonzalez stepped up to the plate and delivered his second RBI of the day to spark a three-run inning for Stacked. Ryder Cielen had his way on the mound for Stacked, striking out five batters and giving up one run across three frames.

The final team to punch its ticket by topping its pool, USA Prime erupted for 12 runs on Tuesday morning to improve to 1-1 by defeating Power Baseball behind a dominant two-way effort. USA Prime batters reached the basepaths 10 times on walks, with the duo of Lash Henderson and Ethan Armbruster working a pair of free passes each. Armbruster swung a hot bat at the plate as well, as both he and teammate Eli Jones drove in three RBIs each. Samir Mohammad added another two RBIs as well in the winning effort. Later in the afternoon, Landon Green (4.1 IP) and Mohammad (2.2) combined for seven shutout innings in a 1-0 win over Legacy Baseball to clinch the group. The pair put together seven strikeouts and surrendered only two hits, allowing a bases-loaded walk in the seventh inning to decide the game for USA Prime.

The final three teams to make the postseason bracket were Texas Twelve Red Sox, Team Elite, and Excel Blue Wave National. While Excel Blue Wave National lost on Tuesday, the two wins for each team on Monday was enough to carry the squad to a spot in bracket play at the conclusion of pool play.

Team Elite squeaked out its second win of the tournament in a thrilling 3-2 victory over the Cangelosi Sparks. Elite’s Jared Grindlinger went 2-for-3 in the contest, scoring his squad’s first run of the day in the top of the first frame. Andrew Berch was excellent on the mound for Team Elite, pitching 5.1 innings while tallying five punchouts. His performance allowed Team Elite to enter the seventh with a two-run lead. The Sparks fought back by scoring a run in the bottom of the seventh, but it was too little as the Team Elite defense held strong to clinch the win and book a quarterfinal ticket.

The third wildcard, the Texas Twelve Red Sox, remained undefeated at 2-0-1 with a 5-4 victory over South Charlotte Panthers Marucci. Buoyed by a pair of hits and an RBI each from both Brent Frosch and Julian Suarez, two other Red Sox hitters finished with a hit and an RBI as well. Combined with 11 strikeouts from pitchers Ethan Kerze (3.0 IP) and Easton Brunson (3.0 IP), that was enough to lift Texas Twelve to the win.

Canes National improved to 2-1 and just missed the quarterfinal cut with an 8-4 win over ZT National Prospects. Caleb Hudson posted a 3-for-4 performance at the plate and scored a pair of runs, and he wasn’t the only one with a big day offensively. Both Conor Rae and Christopher Wall tallied a game-high three RBIs apiece to spark the offense, and Griffin McKain filled the statsheet with a hit, a run scored, an RBI, and a pair of walks.

Several other teams picked up their first wins of the week during Tuesday’s action, led by Top Tier Select’s 6-5 win over East Coast Sox that saw 11 runs scored over the final four innings. Top Tier Select was led by two hits from Camden Boehm, while both Koleman Ragan and Sam Heintz drew a pair of walks.

Cangelosi Sparks picked up its first win of the week by taking down PRD on Tuesday morning, 6-2. Richard Carlson led the effort at the plate with two RBIs on two hits, aided by another two RBIs from Colin Campbell. Tyler Gluting closed the game for the Sparks, putting together a nearly spotless final two innings other than issuing a lone walk.

Legacy Baseball also picked up its first win, downing Canes Midwest 10-2 after jumping out to a 4-0 lead in the opening inning. Yahir Treto and Eric Tani both drove home a pair of RBIs on a hit apiece, and the pair were two of seven Legacy hitters to tally a hit overall. Along with eight hits, Legacy’s offense was bolstered by nine walks, including two drawn by Ira Rootman.

PRD was another squad that picked up its first win of the week in thrilling fashion, walking off the previously undefeated Dirtbags 4-3 in the seventh inning. Ryan Noll was the hero for PRD, slashing the game-winning double as he finished 3-for-4 with two RBIs. He was aided by the trio of Joshua Burkholder, Jacob Carrasco, and Brady Guzzie, who all tallied a pair of hits and combined for two runs and an RBI in the winning effort. On the mound, PRD’s trio of Derek Yormark (3.0 IP), Dante Matarese (1.2 IP), and Ethan Gilchrist (2.1 IP) combined for eight strikeouts and just five hits allowed.

Indiana Bulls Black became the fifth and final team to earn its first victory of the week in a 2-1, seven-inning ballgame against Wow Factor. Wow Factor’s Cooper Goff put the first run of the game on the board with his RBI single in the top of the seventh frame. Bulls’ Brayden Ring answered with a one-out double to tie the game at one run each. With two outs and a 1-2 count, Cooper Collins put the team on his back and plated the winning run with an infield single shot.

Power Baseball wrapped up the last slate of games with a win thanks in part to a five-run seventh inning to top Canes Midwest. It was Trace Farmer who highlighted the rally with a base-clearing triple to give Power a 6-5 lead. Joey Waddingham added a single to increase the lead by another run and secure the 7-5 win.

Bracket play is set to begin at 8:00 a.m. on Wednesday, July 10th, in Cary.