‘One Pitch at a Time’: How Xavier Neyens and Trosky Blasted Their Way to the 17U Champs AZ Gold Medal Game

Third baseman Xavier Neyens, head coach Abe Ruiz, and the rest of Trosky/Milwaukee Brewers Scout Team have a simple philosophy — to take baseball one pitch at a time.

Between its plus-42 run differential and spot in the gold medal game, that’s turned out to be a strong strategy for Trosky/Milwaukee so far at Champs Arizona.

Trosky’s dominated so far at the 17U National Team Championships in Arizona. Whether it's been at Surprise or Peoria, Arizona, Ruiz’s squad has now punched its ticket to the championship bout after a 10-5 quarterfinal win and 3-1 victory in the semifinals over CBA Victus San Diego, putting up a run differential of nearly 30 more than the next closest team.

While the team’s explosive offense and high-flying final scores are impressive, Ruiz credits his team’s success to their simple strategy. After his team’s win in the quarter and semifinals, they won’t change anything heading into the final match.

“One pitch at a time,” Ruiz said. “That's our motto going into it, always, one pitch at a time. So for us, nothing's gonna change tomorrow. You get to this day and even yesterday, you're going to face really good teams, so being able to just minimize [mistakes], win the freebie war, and just win one pitch at a time.”

Ruiz’s Trosky/Milwaukee Brewers Scout team’s simple motto has paid dividends on the field for all its players, who seem to be taking that approach to heart.

Neyens, who ranks near the top of the tournament’s leaderboard for nearly every hitting category, whittled his show-stopping quarterfinal and semifinal performance to taking care of the simple things while in the batter’s box.

More than anything, Neyens made sure to remain calm. And it worked. Neyens hit a double and triple in his team’s quarterfinal win while crushing a home run in the semifinal contest.

“I was just taking deep breaths,” Neyens said. “Nothing's too big, there's not any pressure out here. So just being able to see the ball, calm your heart rate and try to see the ball up front helps me a lot.”

Ruiz described Neyens as taking the same steps towards his game that everyone else does. No matter how much talent he has, he still takes the game one pitch at a time.

“He plays the game hard, plays the game the right way,” Ruiz said. “Obviously, an extremely talented kid, but he approaches work the same as if he was anybody else. Just always love having him as a part of our group for the last five years at this point. So being able to be around him again, I think guys just feed off him.”

Neyens’ approach and results bleeds off on his team as well. Neyens is surrounded by other sluggers such as Linkin Garcia and Nolan Stoll and more who have helped Trosky become the most dominant team in the 17U bracket.

No matter how good he is, Neyens is always looking to learn things from his talented teammates, and he has fun while watching them do their thing.

“Watching everybody hit, you learn different things from a lot of different people,” Neyens said. “And so watching your team hit, it's really cool. It's a lot of fun putting up runs on the board and it helps to get wins.”

Together, Trosky’s a force to be reckoned with. Toting many of the best players in this year’s tournament, the team is gunning for a gold medal on Monday, June 17.

“We put a lineup together of 10 of the best hitters, pretty much in the entire country, and we go out and swing it pretty well,” Neyens said. “So it's pretty cool to hit with all the guys and it's a lot different than high school ball — everybody's pretty good, so it's a lot of fun.”

However, it all goes back to Ruiz’s philosophy. No matter if it’s on offense or defense, Trosky’s taking it one pitch at a time. Against EJ Sports Warriors in the final game, Trosky will have to execute on its strategy in order to don gold by the end of the day.

“When you're playing win or go home games and you win them, you just find a way to grind through and compete,” Ruiz said. “You just kind of win one pitch at a time and just have to be ready to get to the next one.”