Southeast Stripes Claim Gold at 2021 15U NTIS Champions Cup

Southeast scores 14 runs to top Midwest Stripes

CARY, N.C. – The 2021 15U NTIS Champions Cup gold medal belongs to the Southeast Stripes.

The Southeast put the finishing touches on an undefeated weekend, beating the Midwest Stripes, 14-1, on Sunday morning at Coleman Field in Cary, North Carolina.

“This is surreal,” said Southeast head coach JP Lisk. “Playing for the name on the jersey on this platform, it means everything. We played for something at a higher cause, something bigger than ourselves.”

The Southeast scored early and often to pull away. They nearly opened the scoring in the top of the first, putting a pair of runners on with two outs in the inning before Midwest starter Trevor Geis escaped the jam to keep it scoreless. Dennis Butler led off the bottom of the inning with a single and eventually reached third base but the Midwest was unable to get the run across.

In the top of the second, the Southeast loaded the bases on a single, hit-by-pitch, an error with only one out. Logan Zavala drew a walk to get the first run in before Aiden Poe made it 2-0 with a sacrifice fly and Landon Hawkins added a two-run single to make it a four-run inning for the Southeast. The Midwest got a run back in the bottom of the second on an RBI-single by Connor Essenburg to make it 4-1, Southeast.

The third inning proved to be pivotal for the Southeast, as it added five runs to pull away. Sam Schwamb got the scoring started with a bases-loaded walk before Drake Della Ratta drove in two runs with a single to make it 7-1. A fielder’s choice added another run before the Southeast tacked on one more to take a 9-1 advantage.

Southeast starter Cooper Moss and the bullpen kept the Midwest off the board after its run in the second. In the top of the fifth, Landon Hawkins hit a two-run double and scored on a wild pitch in a four-run inning, extending the Southeast’s lead to 12. The Southeast tacked on another run in the top of the seventh to make it 14-1.

“All week, I’ve just tried to stay back and let the barrel do the work,” Hawkins said. “That’s when good things happen. I tried not to be too big for the moment, and just tried to be the man.”

Moss, Jalon Page, and Braegan Cravey combined to allow just one run on three hits in the win. The trio held the Midwest scoreless across the game’s final five innings.

“I was just trying to throw strikes and let them hit it,” Moss said. “I have one of the best defenses behind me and I just wanted to let them hit it. My mindset was to just pitch to contact and see what happens.”

While the Southeast Stripes claimed gold and the Midwest Stripes earned silver, the bronze medal went to the Northwest Stars, who topped the Midwest Stars, 3-1, in the bronze medal game.