South Stars Top Southwest Stars to Claim Gold at 13U NTIS Champions Cup

South uses seven-run fourth inning to finish week undefeated

CARY, N.C. – The 13U NTIS Champions Cup gold medal belongs to the South Stars.

The South put together a seven-run fourth inning and held the Southwest to just two hits to secure a 10-4 victory on Sunday at the USA Baseball National Training Complex in Cary, North Carolina.

After Taytum Reeves held the South off the scoreboard in the top of the first, the Southwest opened the scoring in the bottom half of the inning. A single and error put runners on base before Jose Partida's RBI-groundout drove in Santana Vital to make it 1-0. Matthew Kelley extended the lead a batter later, scoring on a wild pitch to make it a two-run lead.

The South anwered quickly in the top of the second. Dominic Giametta walked to lead off the inning and the South eventually loaded the bases with two outs before a two-run, bloop single to left field tied the game at two. Partida replaced Reeves with the bases loaded, coaxing a popout to strand three runners and keep the game tied.

The lead went right back to the Southwest a half-inning later. With two runners on and two outs, an error plated two runs to give the Southwest a 4-2 advantage in the bottom of the second.

Both teams were held scoreless in the third inning before an offensive outburst by the South in the top of the fourth. Judson Dowell led off the inning with a single and scored on an RBI-single by Grant Sperandio. Austin Smith tied the game with an RBI-double and then scored on an RBI-single by Adam Alvarez to make it a 5-4 lead.

The South continued to hit, rattling off three consecutive RBI-singles. Julian Suarez, Jack Smejkal, and Lincoln Boyle all had well-struck hits to drive in runs and continue to add on. Dowell had his second hit of the inning to drive in another run, capping a seven-run frame and giving the South a 9-4 lead.

"Our dugout was really loud," Dowell said. "We were really supporting the batters, and that's what the result was."

Rallies in the fourth and fifth innings nearly got the Southwest back into striking distance, but Dowell ended a threat in the fourth with a strikeout before stranding the bases loaded in the fifth with a punchout to keep the lead at five.

The Southwest bullpen kept the South scoreless in the fifth and sixth innings. The Southwest threatened again in the bottom of the sixth, putting runners on the corners with two outs before a Dowell induced a lineout to right field.

After the South added one more run in the top of the seventh to go up 10-4, Dowell closed the door with a scoreless seventh, striking out the final batter, to secure the gold medal.

South head coach Alejandro Martinez was proud of his players, who have put in extra work all weekend long.

"We've been working hard with these guys this whole week," Martinez said. "We've been early, working after practice, and preparing for today. It was an outstanding job by the kids."

While the South Stars earned gold, the silver medal was awarded to the Southwest Stars. The Southeast Stars topped the Southwest Stripes, 12-3, to claim bronze.