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NTIS

Southwest Stars Defeat Northwest Stars 8-5, Repeat as 11U NTIS Champions Cup Gold Medal Winners

Carter Hadnot went 3-for-4 with an RBI and earned the save in the victory
August 11, 2019

CARY, N.C. - Southwest repeated as the 11U National Team Identification Series Champions cup gold medal winners Sunday morning after Southwest Stars defeated Northwest Stars 8-5 at Thomas Brook Park in Cary, North Carolina.

Both teams came out of the gates hot as the Southwest Stars scored five runs in the top of the first to jump out to an early 5-0 lead, but the Northwest Stars answered back as the first five batters in their half of the inning all reached base safely, helping them to rally for five runs of their own and tying the game at five apiece after one inning of play.

Southwest Stars pulled away in the fourth as Andrew Felizzari singled to left to bring in a run and put Southwest Stars up 6-5. Sean Downs followed with a double to right-center, driving in a pair and extending the Southwest Stars' lead to 8-5.

Carter Hadnot had a big day at the plate for the Southwest Stars, going 3-for-4, including an RBI single to right. He also pitched two innings and recorded three strikeouts to close out the game, earning the save.

"It feels great to win gold," said Hadnot. "It has been a great experience to play here at the NTIS in North Carolina and to play with some friends and family. I have had a lot of fun here. The dogpile was amazing."

Led by NTIS Regional Director Andy Rojo, the victory marked the second gold medal win for the 11U Southwest region after they took home the gold in 2018.

"It feels amazing [to win gold]", said Rojo. "It is all about the kids. I love to see the smiles on their faces every time we get one out closer to winning… they played every game with a purpose."

Continue to follow @USABaseballNTIS on Twitter and visit USABaseball.com for the most up-to-date news about the National Team Identification Series.

Key Moments:

• The second batter of the game for the Southwest Stars reached on an infield single and came around to score on an error for the first run of the game, putting Southwest Stars out to an early 1-0 lead.
• Carter Hadnot hit an RBI single to right in the same inning, driving in Bear Calvo and extending the Southwest Stars' lead to 2-0.
• Joshua Bank walked with the bases loaded to bring in another run for Southwest Stars, moving their lead to 3-0.
• In total, Southwest Stars scored five runs in the top of the first to jump out to a 5-0 lead.
• The first five batters reached base for the Northwest Stars in the bottom of the first, including Maddox Rabara, who walked with the bases loaded to bring in the Northwest Stars' first run, cutting their deficit to 5-1.
• Royce Pennington scored two batters later on a wild pitch to bring the score to 5-2.
• Carlo Castaneda grounded out to first for an RBI, cutting the Southwest Stars' lead to 5-3.
• Kayden McHenry doubled to left field to drive in a pair and tie the game at five apiece, all within the first inning.
• With the bases loaded in the third, Andrew Felizzari singled to left to bring in a run and put Southwest Stars out 6-5.
• Sean Downs doubled to right-center to drive in a pair and extend the Southwest Stars' lead to 8-5 in the top of the fourth.

Up Next:

The National Team Identification Series Champions Cup will continue next weekend, August 16-18, as the 12U and 14U age groups come to town.

Social Media:

Continue to follow @USABaseballNTIS on Twitter and visit USABaseball.com for the most up-to-date news about the National Team Identification Series.

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NTIS

Southwest Stars Defeat Southwest Stripes 2-1, Win 12U NTIS Champions Cup Gold Medal Game

Petrossi leads Stars to victory with two-run RBI-double
August 18, 2019

CARY, N.C. - The Southwest Stars' Patrick Petrossi hit a two-run RBI-double in the top of the third to give his team a lead they would not relinquish, as they defeated the Southwest Stripes 2-1 on Sunday at Thomas Brooks Park in Cary, North Carolina. 

John Short (Anaheim, Calif.) was impressive on the mound Southwest Stars, going the distance and giving up just one run in the seventh inning. 

"With John [Short] on the mound, he really kept us in the game. He threw phenomenally. He really just had a great tournament," said Southwest Stars head coach Shane Schumaker. 

Both teams struggled at the plate for most of the game. Petrossi attributed his success on offense to putting in extra practice before the game.

"It felt great to hit that double. I was working on my hitting before the game and I think that is what helped me today," said Petrossi. "We all believed in ourselves. We played really well together and I hope I can play with these guys again someday."

In the bottom of the seventh and with one out recorded, Isaac Rojas (Riverside, Calif.) came up big for the Southwest Stripes with a clutch RBI-double to score his teams only run of the game. 

The Southwest Stars third baseman, Miles Layton (Sandy, Utah), would respond with two back-to-back spectacular plays on the corner to close out the game.

"The only thing going through my head was to knock the ball down and stop that run from reaching home, and get the ball to first as quickly as I could," said Layton. "It feels amazing [to win a gold medal] and so cool to even be here. But to make it to this point and then to win, it is just a really cool feeling."

Coach Schumaker was proud of his teams effort in the gold medal game and believes that the bond they built together is what helped them become champions. 

"The comradery between our team was what helped us the most. We were having a good time. The players were always smiling and having fun. Win or lose, we were going to have that experience together. Baseball is such a small world and I think they will continue to have these close relationships. That is what USA Baseball gave to these players."

Key Moments:

• In the top of the second and with two runners on, Southwest Stars' Patrick Petrossi hit a two-run RBI-double down the first baseline to score the first runs of the game.
• In the bottom of the third, Southwest Stars center fielder, Bo Lowrance (Salt Lake City, Utah), fielded a line-drive and made the throw to first to get the out.
• In the bottom of the seventh, Southwest Stripes' Isaac Rojas hit an RBI-double to bring his team within one run, making the score 2-1.
• With the game-tying run on third base in the bottom of the seventh, Southwest Stars third basemen Miles Layton made back-to-back impressive defensive plays that would hold the runner and secure a victory.

Up Next:

The National Team Identification Series Champions Cup will continue next weekend, August 23-25, as the 15U and 16U age groups come to town.

Social Media:

Continue to follow @USABaseballNTIS on Twitter and visit USABaseball.com for the most up-to-date news about the National Team Identification Series.

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NTIS

Dritz Leads Southwest Stars to 14U NTIS Champions Cup Gold Medal After 1-0 Win Over Southeast Stars

Dritz allowed just three hits in the complete game effort
August 18, 2019

CARY, N.C. - Braylen Dritz threw a complete game shutout to lead the Southwest Stars to the 14U National Team Identification Series Champions cup gold medal Sunday morning after defeating Southeast Stars 1-0 at the USA Baseball National Training Complex in Cary, North Carolina.

Dritz was dominant on the mound in the gold medal game, allowing just one hit through the first five innings. He allowed just four base runners in total while striking out three in the complete game effort.

"[Dritz] went out there and dealt," said Southwest Stars head coach Kerry Kincaid. "He experienced very little trouble all game… I am proud of that kid. Today, he was outstanding."

Osnel Rojas was called on to start for the Southeast Stars, tossing 3.1 scoreless innings while striking out six. He was relieved out of the bullpen by Christian Rodriguez, who threw 3.2 innings, striking out four and allowing the only run of the ballgame. Rodriguez (0-1) was the losing pitcher while Dritz (1-0) earned the win.

Both teams were scoreless heading into the sixth, but Logan de Groot hit a single to right to drive in Jaydon Kea in the bottom of the sixth, scoring the only run of the ballgame and giving the Southwest Stars a 1-0 lead. With the lead, Dritz came back out in the seventh to finish the game and did just that, securing the gold medal for the Southwest Stars.

"They all played hard," said Kincaid. "They gave me one hundred percent the entire time. It has just been such an amazing and incredible opportunity to meet kids from the west that I have never met before. It was a fun experience." 

Continue to follow @USABaseballNTIS on Twitter and visit USABaseball.com for the most up-to-date news about the National Team Identification Series.

Key Moments:

• Southwest Stars threatened with the bases loaded in the first, but Southeast Stars starting pitcher Osnel Rojas recorded a strikeout to end the inning and keep the game tied at zero.
• With Southwest runners on first and second and one away, Rojas forced a groundball to the third baseman who stepped on third and threw to first to record the double-play, keeping the score at 0-0 in the third.
• Logan de Groot hit a single to right to drive in Jaydon Kea in the sixth inning, scoring the only run of the ballgame and giving the Southwest Stars a 1-0 lead.
• With the Southeast Stars batting and the tying run on third with just one away, a fly-ball was hit to Southwest Stars' right fielder Ricky Smith, who caught the ball and proceeded to gun the runner at the plate, securing the 1-0 victory for the Southwest Stars.

Up Next:

The National Team Identification Series Champions Cup will continue next weekend, August 23-25, as the 15U and 16U age groups come to town.

Social Media:

Continue to follow @USABaseballNTIS on Twitter and visit USABaseball.com for the most up-to-date news about the National Team Identification Series.

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NTIS

It's an All-Southwest Region Final for the 12u Champions Cup Title

All-Southwest region championship game slated for Sunday
August 17, 2019

After two days of competition, one region ran the table at the 2019 12U NTIS Champions Cup as the Southwest Stripes and Southwest Stars will battle it out for the gold medal. 

The Southwest Stars were dominate on the mound and in the batter's box in the first semifinal of the day, as they defeated the South Stripes, 13-0. The Southwest Stars starting pitcher, Rookie Shepard (Las Vegas, Nev.), pitched five shutout innings for his squad, while Tyler Young (Simi Valley, Calif.), threw one scoreless inning on the bump before the game was called after the sixth inning. Shepard was satisfied with his team's performance and is eager to fight for a gold medal. 

"I feel pretty good about our performance, but of course there are always things to improve on. I am just excited because as a team, we did very well today. I am just ready to compete for a gold medal," Shepard said. "Winning a gold medal would be a dream come true. I have never won gold before, and I've competed in a lot of USA Baseball tournaments. So, it would be great to finally win gold."

The Southwest Stars head coach, Shane Schumaker, believes that his team is peaking at the right time and hopes they keep the momentum going into championship Sunday. 

"We need to not change anything going forward. In all three of our games we have swung the bat pretty well, played great defense and the pitching has been phenomenal. We are throwing strikes and not getting behind in the count. Hopefully we change nothing," said Schumaker.

The Southwest Stars will play in the gold medal game against the Southwest Stripes, who were locked in a stalemate for five innings before the they pulled away late to defeat the Northwest Stars 5-1. 

The Southwest Stripes relied heavily on their starting pitcher, Brek Benedict (Fort Collins, Colo.), who went the distance, giving up just one run.

"I felt like I was really consistent today. My curveball was working and I was pounding the zone. My defense did a great job of backing me up," said Benedict. "Tomorrow we are going to have a lot of energy and get hyped up before the game like we always do, and if we win gold, that will be a dream come true." 

Southwest Regional Director and Southwest Stripes Coach Andy Rojo is proud of both teams for making it this far, but points to Benedict and the rest of the pitching staff as one of the main reasons his team is still in contention for a gold medal.

"We have had great pitching over the last three games. Brek was very consistent and getting ahead in the count early. He was very efficient with his pitches today," Rojo said. "I challenged the kids yesterday and asked them if they thought they had played their best baseball. They all collectively said 'no.' The energy was really outstanding today. We are just going to keep doing what we did today and hopefully we get the same result."

The gold medal game will be played on Sunday at 11:00 ET on Field Five at Thomas Brooks Park. Continue to follow @USABaseballNTIS on Twitter and visit USABaseball.com for the most up-to-date news about the National Team Identification Series.

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NTIS

Southwest Stars, Southeast Stars Headed to 14U NTIS Champions Cup Gold Medal Game

Starting pitching was the key for both teams on Saturday
August 17, 2019

CARY, N.C. - Entering Saturday, both of the Stars and Stripes teams from each of the Southeast and Southwest regions remained in the chase for the 14U National Team Identification Series Champions Cup gold medal. By the end of the day, Southwest Stars and Southeast Stars emerged after winning their respective semifinal matchups.

Led on the mound by starting pitcher Brandon Luu, Southwest Stars began Saturday with a 6-4 victory over Southwest Stripes in the first semifinal at the USA Baseball National Training Complex in Cary, North Carolina. 

Luu was in ace form in the semifinal matchup. The southpaw allowed just three baserunners and struck out four in four scoreless innings of work to get the victory. 

"My fastball was working good. I was able to spot that well. I also had a good feel for my curveball later in the game and was throwing it for strikes," said Luu.

Luu's offense did a good job of providing run support for their pitcher early and often. In the top of the second, the Southwest Stars rallied with two away to score a pair of runs, and they tacked on three more in the third as Gavin Williams hit a two-RBI triple to right and came around to score, putting Southwest Stars up 5-0. 

"I was very happy with my team. They worked together to get some runs, and I felt more comfortable on the mound having a five-run lead," said Luu.

Southwest Stripes threatened a comeback after posting a big fifth inning, scoring four runs on three hits and a pair of walks to cut their deficit to 5-4, but that's all the offense they would muster in the contest. 

Southwest Stars padded their lead with another run in the fifth to make it a 6-4 game and Duncan Marsten closed the game out on the mound to secure the Southwest Stars a spot in the 14U NTIS Champions Cup gold medal game.

"Our team worked very hard for this. We got down for a little bit, but we never gave up. We just kept on scoring runs. We really worked as a team today," said Luu.

Southwest Stars Head Coach Kerry Kincaid was pleased with his team's performance in the semifinal game and is ready for tomorrow's gold medal matchup.

"I told them to get ready for [the gold medal game]. Get hydrated and get plenty of rest to be ready to go. We have to keep the foot on the throat and the foot on the pedal, but I was really pleased with our guys today," said Kincaid.

The Southwest Stars will face off against the Southeast Stars in the gold medal game, who will be looking for their second consecutive 14U championship after winning it all in 2018. 

Southeast Stars earned their spot in the gold medal game after defeating Southeast Stripes, 4-3, in their semifinal game Saturday afternoon. 

Southeast Stars starting pitcher Chayce Kieck set the tone early by throwing four scoreless innings to begin the ballgame.

"I have always been a guy that works around the zone," said Kieck. "I know I have a great group of guys behind me in the field so I know if I stay around the zone and let guys put the ball in play, I will have guys behind me to make the plays."

The Southeast Stars offense supported their starting pitcher with some early offense, taking advantage of a Southeast Stripes error in the second to score a run, and then tacking on three more in the third to jump out to a 4-0 lead. 

"My team had great energy all day today, so I think that is one of the reasons why we scored our runs in bunches," said Kieck. "They are the reason we are here. I am only a piece of the bigger puzzle."

The Southeast Stripes began to rally back as they scored a run in the fifth after Thomas Brice hit an RBI-single to cut the Southeast Stars lead to 4-1. In the seventh, the Southeast Stripes scored a pair of runs to bring the game to within a run, but Anderson Nance closed the game out on the mound for Southeast Stars, earning the save in the 4-3 victory.

"[Nance] pitched really good," said Kieck. Even though things kind of went sideways at the end there, he did a really nice job of keeping his composure and filling the zone, and ultimately, he secured the win for us."

Southeast Stars Head Coach Andy Burress has been happy with the production he has seen from his squad all weekend.

"We have a great group of guys," said Burress. "They play hard. We got here last year and won with a walk-off steal of home, and a lot of those guys from last year's 13U team are here with us again this year. We are just going to go out tomorrow and enjoy the atmosphere, enjoy the game, and continue to do what we have been doing."

The gold medal game will take place on Coleman Field at the USA Baseball National Training Complex at 11:00 am ET Sunday morning. It will be streamed live on USABaseball.com and Facebook Live.

Continue to follow @USABaseballNTIS on Twitter and visit USABaseball.com for the most up-to-date news about the National Team Identification Series.

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NTIS

What It Means to Represent Your Region

From hometown hero to a chance at making a USA Baseball National team
August 17, 2019

Spanning across the first three weeks in August, over 200 athletes from six regions of the country (Midwest, Northeast, Northwest, South, Southeast and Southwest) compete in the USA Baseball National Team Identification Series (NTIS) Champions Cup, hoping to be noticed by USA Baseball and its team of Task Force members. Their goal? To earn a spot on a national team trials or national team development program roster for the following year.

But to get there, athletes first undergo a series of tryouts across various states in each of their respective regions. And before they can fight for a chance to win the NTIS Champions Cup, and to show that they have what it takes make a USA Baseball national team program, they first need to prove they can represent their region.

For these athletes, representing their region is an honor. They have the rare opportunity to put on a uniform that displays where they are from, and for many of these athletes, where they learned to play the game of baseball. With pride and motivation to prove their region is the best, these athletes go head-to-head with one another in a battle for not only a gold medal in the NTIS Champions Cup, but a shot a representing their country. Earning an invite to represent your region Cary is an achievement only a handful of athletes have the privilege to experience. 

Bobby Brooks, who began his NTIS journey in La Mirada, California, is one of just 27 players to come from the Southwest region and will be competing for its Stars team in the 12U NTIS Champions Cup this year.

"Being able to represent the Southwest region is great. It is just an honor really. We get a chance to play with kids from our state and from out-of-state as well," Brooks said. "I feel like my hard work has paid off. I get to play with some of the best players from my country and that is what it is all about."

Like many of the athletes at the NTIS, Brooks wants to take full advantage of his time in Cary and has one goal in mind. 

"Nothing could come close to winning the gold medal while I'm here. Winning gold for my region would be the best experience I have ever had."

Another athlete who has been given the opportunity to represent their region, Oliver Service from Detroit, Michigan, is representing the Midwest region on the Stars team in the 14U NTIS Champions Cup. Service feels confident in his abilities and is eager to prove himself this in the tournament.

"It feels good to know you are one of the guys that people are talking about in your region. I know I am good; I just have to show out there on the field," Service said.

When asked about what it means to play for his region, Service was quick to point toward his experience at the Little League World Series and the bond he has built with his teammates during his NTIS process. 

"It was great playing for my region at the Little League World series, so it is a great honor to play in something that big again. I am just ready to show off my talents," Service said. "All the kids here have been so welcoming and very friendly. Along with my teammates, I have worked so hard to get here. We have become so close and just to have that bond with them will be something to remember forever."

Jorge Barba, an outfielder from Miami, Florida, and a member of the 14U Southeast Stars, echoed Service's feelings, acknowledging the importance of impressing scouts at the Champions Cup, but also having another driving force at play when he steps on the field at the USA Baseball National Training Complex in Cary, North Carolina 

"It is incredible to be able to be out here and competing with all of these great baseball players," Barba said. "I work hard and I love this sport. After this experience, I'm hoping that I can play for Team USA one day. But winning a gold medal for the Southeast region is a different story."

For many of these athletes, proving themselves and representing their region can be the first step in their baseball careers outside of playing in their hometowns. Competing in the NTIS Champions Cup comes with the unique opportunity of meeting other athletes from around the country and gauging themselves against some of the best young talents in their age group.

But, after the numerous tryouts around their region that have led them here to the NTIS Champions Cup, it is obvious to them that winning and representing your region is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to not take lightly. 

These athletes have earned their chance to represent their regions in Cary so that may one day be able to represent their country abroad.

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Drawing from Experience: Josh Atomanczyk

From Team USA to the NTIS
August 16, 2019

Josh Atomanczyk knows what it feels like to win gold. 

Before he was representing the South region at the 2019 National Team Identification Series (NTIS) Champions Cup at the USA Baseball National Training Complex, Atomanczyk was donning the red, white and blue as a member of the USA Baseball 12U National Team. 

Atomanczyk was a part of Team USA in 2017 at the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) U-12 Baseball World Cup, where he helped the 12U National Team finish with an 8-1 record and the gold medal, it's third overall world championship. 

"At the stadium, nobody ever wanted [Team USA] to win," said Atomanczyk. "It was always everybody else against us. We fed off that pressure and used it to help us win gold."

Atomanczyk used that pressure to turn in a gem of a performance in Team USA's Super Round game of the WBSC U-12 Baseball World Cup. He pitched the United States to a 6-3 win over Japan, throwing 5.1 innings, allowing just four hits and one earned run, while striking out seven. At the plate, he went 2-for-3 with a pair of home runs and five RBIs. Atomanczyk's performance in that game earned him Co-USA Baseball International Performance of the Year honors. 

The person he shared the award with? Marcus Stroman, who threw a masterpiece of his own, tossing a one-hitter over 6.1 innings to lead Team USA to its first-ever gold medal at World Baseball Classic in 2017.

"I remember finding out that I won the award and thinking that it could not be real. Marcus Stroman is somebody that I have always looked up to because I am not going to ever be a big guy," said Atomanczyk. "With him in the Major Leagues, he is proving that height does not measure heart, and that is something that I kind of live by now. So, knowing that we shared that award together is crazy."

Atomanczyk batted .381 with five home runs in total during the World Cup, and also threw 9 2/3 innings on the mound, posting a 1.23 ERA.

"Being able to go to Taiwan was such an incredible experience. I was so lucky and fortunate to be given that opportunity and I hope I get the chance to represent Team USA again someday soon."

Today, Atomanczyk is back at the National Training Complex, but this time, it is to represent his region.

"It means a lot to represent my region," said Atomanczyk. "It is a big honor. I feel like being at the NTIS has helped me get a lot of exposure and helped get coaches to learn my name, and I just have to give them something to remember me by. I do not care if they remember how good I am, I just want them to know about my character; I want to be the reason why people say 'he represents USA Baseball so well.'"

Atomanczyk is returning to the NTIS Champions Cup as a member of the 14U South Stripes team after playing for the 13U South Texas team last summer, where he was second on the team in batting average (.500) and helped them to a 3-1 record and a bronze medal.

"This year I am looking for [an NTIS Champions Cup gold medal]. It would be a big accomplishment for our region," said Atomanczyk.

USA Baseball Task Force member Josh Ellison has watched on as Atomanczyk has played an integral part on his teams over the past two summers.

"If he continues to develop both mentally and physically as a baseball player, he has the potential to one day contribute to a top-tier program, and if he continues to work hard every day, he may even play at the highest level," said Ellison. "The USA Baseball Task Force] is looking for the intangibles. Baseball IQ, the willingness and hunger to want to compete for your country. When you find those things, you find something special, because you know you are finding somebody who not only wants to obtain a gold medal, but he wants to one day, possibly wear a major league uniform and contribute to the game for years to come."

Aside from leading his region to gold, Atomanczyk also hopes to leave the 2019 NTIS Champions Cup with an invite to the 2020 USA Baseball 15U National Team Trials.

"I feel like I can compete with anybody [at the NTIS Champions Cup], and I just have to believe in myself and show that out on the field," said Atomanczyk. "I have always just tried to work harder than everybody else, and it would mean everything to me [to receive an invite to the USA Baseball 15U National Team Trials]. It has been a dream of mine ever since I was little, and to know that I [have won gold with USA Baseball], and to know that I have the chance to maybe do it again someday is what keeps me playing baseball."

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Southwest Stars Defeat South Stars 5-1, Win 13U NTIS Champions Cup Gold Medal Game

Southwest Stars allow just four hits in the game
August 11, 2019

CARY, N.C. - The Southwest Stars scored five runs in two innings and defeated the South Stars, 5-1, on Sunday at Coleman Field in Cary, North Carolina. 

Brady Strohm earned the win for Southwest Stars and didn't allow a run through four innings pitched. Talin Gardini came in for the Southwest Stars for the final two innings and fanned four batters to earn the save. 

"Winning a gold medal feels great. Our team put in a lot of work over the past three days. We really came together as a team and spent a lot of time together in practice and before games," Gardini said. 

The Southwest Stars coach, Justin Philips, was impressed with his team's ability to keep runners stranded and get out of a jam.

"Our team really competed, especially our catchers. They remembered everything I've taught them and did a good job of commanding the zone," Phillips said. "I'm here for the kids and this has been special to be a part of. These guys bought in, they were coachable and it was a lot of fun."

 

Continue to follow @USABaseballNTIS on Twitter and visit USABaseball.com for the most up-to-date news about the National Team Identification Series.

Key Moments:

• With the bases loaded in the bottom of the third, Southwest Stars drew a walk and brought home the first run of the game.
• Continuing in the bottom of the third, Kibru Pam hit an RBI-single to shallow left and drove in two more runs, increasing their lead 3-0.
• With the bases loaded in the bottom of the fourth, Aiden Yancy gathered a hard-hit grounder and made a spinning throw to first to end the inning for Southwest Stars and keep the South Stars runners stranded.
• In the top of the fifth, Maximo Martinez hit a two-run RBI-double down the left field line that drove in two runs, bringing the score to 5-0.
• The South Stars got on the board in the bottom of the sixth when a runner on third took advantage of a passed ball and crossed the plate, making the score 5-1.

Up Next:

The National Team Identification Series Champions Cup will continue next weekend, August 16-18, as the 12U and 14U age groups come to town.

Social Media:

Continue to follow @USABaseballNTIS on Twitter and visit USABaseball.com for the most up-to-date news about the National Team Identification Series.

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NTIS

South Stars, Southwest Stars Set to Meet in 2019 13U NTIS Champions Cup Gold Medal Game

Both teams one-hit opponent in the semifinals
August 11, 2019

CARY, N.C. - After two days of competition, and 14 games played, only two teams remain in contention for the 2019 13U NTIS Champions Cup gold medal. Both the South Stars and Southwest Stars proved to the rest of the competition that they belong in the championship game with statement wins, as they both recorded a combined team one-hitter against their opponents in the semifinals. 

The Southwest Stars faced off against the Northwest Stripes in the first semifinal game of the day. They held on to their no hitter through 6.1 innings and were clicking on offense as well, putting up nine runs against the Northwest Stripes. Brady Strohm, a 12U National Team alum who won gold at the COPABE U-12 Pan-American Championships in 2018, was the starting pitcher in the semifinals for the Southwest Stars and was impressed by his team's effort in the game.

"As a team, we performed well. We hit well, we played amazing defense and our pitchers did an outstanding job," Strohm said.

Effective pitching has been a staple of the Southwest Stars team so far in the tournament, coming off of a four-inning, one-hit performance by Peyton Coria in yesterday's second pool play game. But as Strohm said, they also hit well. So well that Southwest Stars have recorded 14 doubles and four triples through its three games. They hope to keep this momentum heading into the championship game.

"The semifinal game gave us a lot of confidence and we are coming into the championship game with a lot of energy," Strohm said. 

The Southwest Stars coach, Justin Philips, was pleased with his team's play in the semifinals and thought they exhibited a complete game ahead of tomorrow's championship game.

"My team got ahead early and we were pounding the zone. Our pitchers gave their teammates chances to make plays and we capitalized with runners in scoring position," Philips said. 

Despite how dominate they have been, The Southwest Stars may meet their match in the gold medal game at the USA Baseball National Training Complex. The South Stars have two 12U National Team alums who also won a gold medal at the COPABE U-12 Pan-American games 2018. The South Stars' starting pitcher, Tristian Bristow, was electric on the mound for the South Stars in their semifinal game, not allowing a hit through the fir 5.2 innings. Not focusing on his individual performance, Bristow feels that the championship game is a chance to prove that his region will reign supreme at the end of the 13U NTIS Champions Cup.

"It will feel great knowing that we have the best baseball team in the region. It would be great to have some bragging rights and be able to go home and celebrate knowing that we played well," Bristow said. 

Masato Chilcutt is also on the championship-bound South Stars, and along with his teammate Bristow, is a 12U National Team alum. Chilcutt, who was a stalwart behind the plate, also had a successful day offensively with three hits in the semifinal game and credits his team for the victory.

"The team did great, it really was a team effort. Everyone did their part to help win the game. We're going to pick up where we left off and keep this energy for tomorrow's game," Chilcutt said.

The South Stars coach, Alejandro Martinez, was pleased with his squad's semifinal performance, but not surprised.

"I'm very proud of those guys. I know I'm going to see a lot of those guys on television in a few years on national teams and playing professionally. These kids have a lot of skills. A lot of people are going to be surprised, but some of these kids are going to make it. I just feel very proud," Martinez said. 

Proven to be the top two regions from the 13U NTIS Champions Cup, and with both teams having national team experience, this is set up to be a championship game featuring quality baseball from all facets of the game. The gold medal game will be played on Coleman Field at 11:00 am ET on Sunday and streamed live on USABaseball.com and Facebook Live.

Continue to follow @USABaseballNTIS on Twitter and visit USABaseball.com for the most up-to-date news about the National Team Identification Series.

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NTIS

Northwest Stars, Southwest Stars Secure Spots in 11U NTIS Champions Cup Gold Medal Game

The two teams combined to outscore their opponents 20-8 in the semis
August 10, 2019

CARY, N.C. - Entering Saturday, the Northwest Stars, Southwest Stars, Northwest Stripes and Southwest Stripes remained in the hunt for the 11U NTIS Champions Cup gold medal. At the end of the day, only two remained.

Northwest Stars put forth a complete team effort as seven different hitters contributed RBI hits, beginning the day by with a convincing 8-2 victory over Southwest Stripes to clinch the first spot in the 11U NTIS Champions Cup gold medal game.

Royce Pennington hit a double to right-center in the top of the first to drive in Chase Groves and give Northwest Stars the early 1-0 lead. Carlo Castaneda followed that up by hitting a double down the left field line later in the inning to bring in a pair, giving the Northwest Stars an early lead that they would not relinquish.

Seddrick Henderson III got the start on the mound and was masterful before turning it over to Kael Phillips to close out the game for the Northwest Stars, who tossed three scoreless innings to clinch a spot in the finals.

"I felt really good today. I threw three innings and did not give up any runs, struck out three guys, and also got a hit to help us win. I am excited and looking forward to playing in the championship game tomorrow," said Phillips.

The Northwest Stars will play in the 11U Champions Cup gold medal game at 11 a.m. tomorrow, where they will face the Southwest Stars who also turned in a powerful offensive showing in their semifinal victory over Northwest Stripes.

The Southwest Stars had no issues scoring in the contest as nine members of their starting lineup had a hit in the semifinal game. The offense was supported by starting pitcher, Andruw Giles, who set the tone for the game on the mound.

Giles, who returns to the Champions Cup for the second time, will play for gold once again after winning a title with the Southwest region in 2018. In the semifinal matchup, Giles threw four innings, allowing just two runs (one earned) while striking out a pair to get the victory. 

"Andruw [Giles] has been pretty good. He was with us last summer as a younger player and helped us win the gold medal last year. It helps us because he has some experience and he has been able to handle the overall experience here since day one," said Southwest and South NTIS Regional Director Andy Rojo. "Since the beginning, [the Southwest Stars] have been playing really good fundamental baseball. We have had good pitching and the defense has been really solid. The lineup has been moving the ball around too."

Northwest Stripes would rally back later in the game as they scored six runs between the fifth and sixth innings to cut its deficit to 9-6, but Southwest would ultimately respond and score three runs in the bottom of the sixth to put the game out of reach.

"I told our guys we lost our focus for about an inning, but they are a good team, so they quickly realized that we have to stay focused. I just had to give them a quick reminder in the dugout and that was it," said Rojo.

The gold medal game will take place on Field Five at Thomas Brooks Park at 11:00 am ET Sunday morning.

"I told them to get some rest [heading into the gold medal game]. They are eleven years old so they have a good balance of energy; so, I think they'll be alright tomorrow morning for the championship game," Rojo continued.

Continue to follow @USABaseballNTIS on Twitter and visit USABaseball.com for the most up-to-date news about the National Team Identification Series.

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