CARY, N.C. -- After falling short in the title game in 2021, the Premier Nationals took down Showcase Baseball Academy, 12-4, to win the 2022 11U Futures Invitational on Sunday afternoon at Thomas Brooks Park in Cary, North Carolina.
After falling into an early 3-0 hole in the top of the first, Premier bounced back for two runs in the bottom of the inning and four runs in the bottom of the second to take control of the contest. After Carter Holder hit the game-tying single in the third, Dylan Mercado delivered a three-run triple to give Premier a 6-3 lead. The Nationals added five runs in the fifth and one in the sixth to break the game open and pull away with their first Futures Invitational title in program history.
Mercado drove in four runs in the win to carry the Premier offense, also drawing a walk in the gold medal win. Major Ciers and Cash Ericcson each had two hits for the Nationals and Ciers added a pair of RBIs in the offensive outburst. Ericsson, Holder, and Grey Taylor each scored two runs in the victory. SBA got two hits from Graham Huffstettler in the defeat.
Tristin Gaines tossed four innings and allowed just the three early runs to earn the win for Premier and Taylor pitched the final three frames to notch the save. Colton Pettinato surrendered the loss for SBA.
- SBA nabbed three quick runs in the top of the first inning to jump out to an early lead. Mason Mackay delivered the game's opening run with an RBI single before he and Huffstettler scored on a pickoff attempt to give SBA a 3-0 lead.
- Premier answered in their half of the first on a sacrifice fly by Mercado and an RBI groundout by Quinn Neal, trimming the deficit to 3-2.
- Holder singled to the right field in Premier's half of the third to drive in Ericsson and tie the game at three.
- With the bases loaded and two outs in the third, Mercado roped a bases-clearing triple to right field to plate three runs and give the Nationals a 6-3 lead.
- Both sides got solid pitching in the middle innings, as Gaines and Taylor combined to keep SBA off the scoreboard and Chase Woodley pitched well for SBA to hold Premier's offense in check.
- Premier used a big five-run fifth to put the game out of reach. After Neal doubled to lead off the frame, Ty Chambless drove him in to make it 7-3. Two batters later, Ericsson socked a double and Ciers hit a two-run triple as the Nationals grew their lead to 10-3.
- Woodley scored on a wild pitch to cap the five-run rally for Premier, giving the Nationals an eight-run lead after five. Chambless drove in another run in the bottom of the sixth to make the score 12-3.
- SBA plated a run in the top of the seventh on an RBI groundout by Ryder Sheffield, but Taylor induced a game-ending groundout to end the game and secure the gold medal for Premier.
- With the win, the Premier Nationals secured their first Futures Invitational gold medal in program history.
- Mercado finished the tournament with a .500 average (8-for-16), driving in nine runs throughout the tournament to help lift Premier to the gold medal.
- Holder scored a team-high nine runs in the tournament for the gold medalists. He batted .381 (8-for-21) in six games played.
- Premier finished the tournament with a combined 3.00 ERA. Mercado (1.68) and Ciers (1.91) had the two lowest ERAs for the Nationals.
- Woodley had a .412 average (7-for-17) throughout the tournament for SBA. He hit a pair of doubles and drove in a team-best five RBIs, also scoring three runs.
- The silver medal is SBA's first-ever medal at the Futures Invitational.