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FEATURE: 15U/16U NTIS Champions Cup Provides Invaluable Opportunity To Set Players Up For Success
With the first weekend of the National Team Identification Series (NTIS) Champions Cup in the books, a lot of talent was displayed at the National Training Complex. The 424 players who traveled to North Carolina to compete in the 15U/16U event came with a goal in mind: to one day compete for the red, white, and blue.
Last week’s event featured all six regions, and within each region were four teams, two from the 15U level and two from the 16U level. Each player was representing their region and of course had their eyes on winning a gold medal, but in a bigger picture their focus was to earn an invitation to the 2023 16U/17U National Team Development Program (NTDP).
Twenty-four players from the event – 12 from each age group – will earn an invitation to next summer’s NTDP, where they will not only receive elite instruction from members of the professional and collegiate baseball community, but also a chance to potentially be identified for a future USA Baseball National Team.
Behind the scenes in Cary was the Task Force, the team that helps to identify those guys who could one day represent the United States on the international level. There were a combined 16 members, eight for each age group, and together they searched for those elite players. Steve Dintaman and David Webb were two of those Task Force members who were on a mission over the weekend to help identify the future talent of the game, as Webb was the lead for the 15U Task Force while Dintaman was a part of the 16U Task Force.
When watching the competition over the span of four days, several factors go into determining those top players. Not only were the members of the Task Force looking for what players can do on the field, but also what intangibles they bring to the table.
“Our goal is to evaluate the players on all the teams and see what guys could possibly fit to be a part of the 16U/17U National Team Development Program,” said Dintaman, who is an assistant coach at Northern Kentucky University and has been involved with USA Baseball since 2016.
“In doing so, watching how they play on the field and what kind of tools they have is obviously a big part of that, but seeing how they handle themselves off the field is another factor. We’re looking for what kind of teammate they are and are trying to learn as much as possible about these players. We’re looking for guys who are up in the dugout, cheering for their teammates, and having fun.”
One of the main factors that is considered when selecting players that is different from other events is projectability. The NTIS Champions Cup is unique in that the Task Force is looking for a combined 24 players that will have what it takes in almost a year from now.
“Usually when you're watching the National Team Championships in Arizona and North Carolina and making NTDP selections, you're less than a month away from players showing up to a team to compete. At the NTIS Champions Cup, the event is a year away, so you have to project what they going to look like in nine to 10 months from now. When they get stronger, they are going to have more velocity and/or bat speed, and so we have to think of how those players might develop over that period of time,” explained Dintaman.
“In our eyes, these guys don't have to go out and win a gold medal in Cary, they have to get ready a year from now compete at NTDP and hopefully be evaluated by a national team staff to play on a team that will compete for a gold medal.”
Webb is no stranger to working with USA Baseball, as he been involved with the organization every summer in 23 of the last 24 years. Having played a fundamental role with the NTDP in years past, Webb sees his job of leading the 15U Task Force as a vital way to help identify the select players that will earn an invitation to the 2023 16U/17U NTDP.
“With this year’s NTDP, I was able to cross check the 16U players in North Carolina and Arizona to help create the 80-man pool, but never had the chance to get a look at the 24 kids who came from NTIS,” said Webb, who is currently the head coach at Corona del Sol High School in Arizona. “We ran into the issue of having a few too many players at certain positions during this year’s NTDP, so what’s cool about this opportunity is that I’m actually here so I can help to get ahead of the game and build out a solid roster for next year’s NTDP.”
During his 24 years of experience, Webb has witnessed the nation’s top talent come through a lot of USA Baseball’s events. The NTIS Champions Cup and NTDP are two of those events that can provide an invaluable opportunity for players to set themselves up for success.
“The number one thing that you can get out of an event like NTIS is relevancy. It’s a thing,” said Webb. “I mean, when you saw the MLB Draft this year, all the top kids were in a USA Baseball uniform. You get on those lists and heighten the awareness from colleges. College coaches know where to go to look for prospects, and it’s at USA Baseball events.
“But on top of that, for those kids who get that invite to NTDP, they are able to experience being among the elite players in the country in their age group and gauge where they are in the bigger picture.”
For those players who aspire to represent their country on the diamond to take their career to the next level, looking for those opportunities is key to achieving those aspirations.
“Social media is a huge medium for all of us to get information, and USA Baseball provides a lot of that. If you're a young kid you can keep up with when they announce NTIS tryouts and other events that you can get involved in through their platforms,” added Webb.
“The National Team Championships along with the NTIS Champions Cup are huge tournaments, and they give kids a chance to be seen. Try and make sure that when you’re on a club team that those events are in your coach’s plan.
“You just have to be aware, be proactive, find out where events are, and get involved.”
USA Baseball Reveals 2022 National Team Identification Series Selections
CARY, N.C. – USA Baseball today revealed the 72 athletes selected from the 2022 National Team Identification Series (NTIS) for its 2023 national team programming, following the conclusion of the NTIS Champions Cup, which was held from August 11-28 at the USA Baseball National Training Complex in Cary, North Carolina. Selections were first announced on the USA Baseball NTIS Selection Show, which can be found on USABaseball.com and the organization’s YouTube channel, USABaseballTV.
Additionally, USA Baseball announced that the Southwest region won the 2022 NTIS Champions Cup for the fourth consecutive summer.
The NTIS is the most comprehensive player identification program offered by USA Baseball. Using a six-region system for the initial player identification process, the NTIS holds tryouts in each region of the country for players to be identified and selected for their regional teams, and invited to the NTIS Champions Cup in Cary, North Carolina.
The NTIS Champions Cup consists of tournament-style play, with over 1,200 of the country’s top players competing in 144 games in addition to skill testing and on-field evaluations run by the USA Baseball Task Force and national team coaches.
“We are very excited to reveal the seventy-two athletes who have been selected out of the National Team Identification Series for next year’s national team programming,” said USA Baseball Assistant Director of Baseball Operations Ann Claire Roberson. “As always, the event was full of immense talent in every region and every age group, making the selection process a difficult one. We are eager to watch the selected players continue to grow within our programming and look forward to seeing their impact on the future of USA Baseball.”
Twelve athletes from each age group were invited to compete in the following year’s age-appropriate national team programming events, including 2023 12U National Team Training Camp, the 2023 13U/14U Athlete Development Program (ADP), 2023 15U National Team Training Camp, and the 2023 16U/17U National Team Development Program (NTDP).
In total, the 72 athletes selected represent twenty-two different states and all six regions from across the U.S.
The 2023 National Team Identification Series selections are as follows:
Name; Position; Hometown; Region
2023 12U National Team Training Camp invitees:
(from 11U NTIS)
- Colton Byrnes; INF/C; Truckee, Calif.; Northwest
- Tyler Early; INF/LHP; Alexandria, La.; South
- Kingston George; OF/RHP; Gunter, Texas; South
- Adam Gonzalez; RHP/INF; Canyon Country, Calif.; Southwest
- Paris Head; INF/RHP; Chicago, Ill.; Midwest
- Omar Henriquez; INF/OF; New Milford, N.J.; Northeast
- Uriyeh Marguth; INF/RHP; Gresham, Ore.; Northwest
- Jaylen OBannon; RHP/INF; Daly City, Calif.; Northwest
- Michael Ohman; LHP/INF; South San Francisco, Calif.; Northwest
- Jett Schoolcraft; OF/LHP; Aloha, Ore.; Northwest
- Ryder Serna; INF/OF; San Bernardino, Calif.; Southwest
- JR Waddell; INF/OF; Shreveport, La.; Southeast
2023 13U/14U Athlete Development Program invitees:
(from 12U NTIS)
- Brooks Blanchard; RHP/INF; Greer, S.C.; Southeast
- Cameron Jamal Gibson; OF/LHP; Conway, Ark.; South
- Noah Jarolimek; INF/RHP; Duncan, S.C.; Southeast
- Cristian Matos; C/RHP; Belleville, N.J.; Northeast
- Carter Nash; OF/RHP; Moore, S.C.; Southeast
- Josiah Park; OF/RHP; Fullerton, Calif.; Southwest
- Caleb Polk; RHP/INF; Forney, Texas; South
- Jesse Romo; RHP/OF; Vacaville, Calif.; Northwest
- Eric Shim; INF; Temecula, Calif.; Southwest
- Cameron Small; RHP/INF; Wake Forest, N.C.; Southeast
- Nateo Victorio; INF/C; Suisun City, Calif.; Northwest
- Jett Wilson; INF/OF; Lindsay, Okla.; South
2023 13U/14U Athlete Development Program invitees:
(from 13U NTIS)
- Jacob Carrasco; C/INF; Lancaster, Pa.; Northeast
- Noah Clark; INF/RHP; McLeansville, N.C.; Southeast
- Chase Cotton; RHP/INF; Lincoln, Calif.; Northwest
- Aiden DeLeon; OF/LHP; Victoria, Texas; South
- Orion Gonzalez; INF/RHP; Castaic, Calif.; Southwest
- Andrew Jimenez; INF/RHP; Wildomar, Calif.; Southwest
- Kegan Johnson; OF; Shelbyville, Tenn.; Southeast
- Owen Mescall; INF/OF; Irvine, Calif.; Southeast
- Josh Morgan; OF; Chicago, Ill.; Midwest
- Blake Ragsdale; INF/RHP; Burr Ridge, Ill.; Midwest
- Jael Santos; INF/RHP; Paterson, N.J.; Northeast
- Jacob Seamon; OF/RHP; Waxhaw, N.C.; Southeast
2023 15U National Team Training Camp invitees:
(from 14U NTIS)
- Michael Chin; C/OF; Houston, Texas; South
- Trey Ebel; INF/RHP; Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.; Southwest
- JT Girod; RHP/INF; Independence, Ore.; Northwest
- Braylon Kolish; RHP/OF; Henderson, Nev.; Southwest
- Jason Kruczek; RHP/OF; Alexandria, Va.; Northeast
- Carson Lane; C/RHP; Dandridge, Tenn.; Southeast
- Oliver Minyard; C/INF; Dallas, Texas; South
- Kaden Nicholls; INF/LHP; Grass Valley, Calif.; Northwest
- Kevin Roberts Jr.; INF/RHP; Meridian, Miss.; South
- Garner Rodriguez; INF/RHP; Nacogdoches, Texas; South
- Jack Smejkal; INF/RHP; The Woodlands, Texas; South
- Brandon Washington; RHP/INF; Stanley, N.C.; Southeast
2023 16U/17U National Team Development Program invitees:
(from 15U NTIS)
- Evan Amos; RHP/INF; Summerville, S.C.; Southeast
- Jack Boucher; OF/INF; Mission Viejo, Calif.; Southwest
- Thomas Brown; C/INF; Livermore, Calif.; Northwest
- Tristan Dalzell; LHP; Long Beach, Calif.; Southwest
- Brock Foulds; INF/RHP; Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.; Southwest
- Griffin Loy; RHP/INF; Nancy, Ky.; Midwest
- Grant Mehrhoff; LHP/OF; Marthasville, Mo.; Midwest
- Tait Reynolds; OF/INF; Queen Creek, Ariz.; Northwest
- Luke Ryerse; RHP/INF; Woodbury, Minn.; Midwest
- Nicholas Terhaar; RHP/INF; Saginaw, Minn.; Midwest
- Ben Veletean; INF; Lebanon, Ohio; Northeast
- Miles Young; INF; Cypress, Texas; South
2023 16U/17U National Team Development Program invitees:
(from 16U NTIS)
- Anthony Brown Jr.; INF/OF; Jacksonville, Fla.; Southeast
- Patrick (Teddy) Garner III; RHP/INF; Simpsonville, S.C.; Southeast
- Owen Jenkins; C/INF; Versailles, Ky.; Midwest
- Cameron Johnson; RHP/INF; Waco, Texas; South
- Jaxon Miller; OF; Frisco, Texas; South
- Joe Olson; LHP; Chicago, Ill.; Midwest
- David Ramirez; LHP/OF; Kemah, Texas; South
- Edward Rothlander III; RHP/OF; Conroe, Texas; South
- Cooper Rummel; RHP/OF; Austin, Texas; South
- Logan Sariga; OF/INF; Houston, Texas; South
- Landon Schaefer; INF/RHP; Fayetteville, Ark.; South
- Bricen Smith; INF/OF; Perry, Ga.; Southeast
Northeast Stripes' Late-Game Heroics Leads to 11U Gold
CARY, N.C. – The Northeast Stripes scored nine runs in the final three frames and Maykel Jimenez came through with the game-winning RBI-double in the top of the seventh en route to a 10-6 victory over the Northwest Stars in the championship game of the 11U NTIS Champions Cup.
Trailing 5-1 in the top of the fifth inning, the Northeast Stripes kicked the offense into gear with two outs. Jaydon Alemany walked, Isaac Shulman singled to center, and William Holly walked to load the bases for Grady Wright, who walked in the first run of the inning. Then Jaden Godette followed with a bases-clearing triple over the centerfielder’s head before coming around on an error to take a 6-5 lead. The Northwest Stars tied the game in the bottom half of the inning on a Jedrek Elliott single and a fielding error, but the Northeast Stripes rallied again in the final frame.
With runners on second and third with one out, Jimenez launched an RBI-double to left-center to go ahead 7-6. Two fielding errors by the Northwest Stars plated three more runs in the top half of the inning as the Northeast Stripes closed out the 10-6 victory.
Ryan Lemm was stellar in relief for the Northeast Stripes. Coming on in the fifth inning, he gave up just one hit and struck out five batters over the final three innings of the game to get the win on the mound.
Northwest Stars’ Benjamin Medford led all hitters offensively on the day, going 3-for-4 with a run scored. Colton Byrnes (2-for-3, RBI) also produced multiple hits on the day for the Northwest Stars, meanwhile 10 different Northeast Stripes batters tallied a base knock.
HOW IT HAPPENED:
- Northwest Stars’ Uriyeh Marguth came to the plate in the bottom of the first inning with one out and laced a two-RBI triple to the right-field fence to put the home team ahead 2-0 in the opening frame.
- Colton Byrnes singled through the left side of the infield to score Uriyeh Marguth from third base to extend Northwest Stars’ lead to 3-0 in the bottom of the first.
- Asher Fontaine scored the first run of the game for the Northeast Stripes in the top of the third inning on a bases-loaded wild pitch after leading off the inning with a single and moving to third courtesy of a hit-by-pitch and a Henry Bogle bunt single.
- The Northwest Stars tacked on another run in the bottom of the third with a Jaylen O’Bannon sacrifice fly to center, scoring Colton Byrnes to take a 4-1 lead heading into the fourth inning.
- Uriyeh Marguth tallied his third RBI of the game with a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the fourth inning to extend the Northwest Stars’ lead to 5-1.
- A two-out, bases-loaded walk to Grady Wright brought the Northeast Stripes within three, 5-2, in the top of the fifth inning.
- Northeast Stripes’ leadoff batter Jaden Godette lined a bases-clearing triple over the head of the Northwest Stars’ centerfielder and came around to score on a throwing error to take the lead, 6-5, in the top of the fifth inning.
- Jedrek Elliot came through with a pinch-hit single in the bottom half of the fifth inning that moved Benjamin Medford to third base, but the right fielder misplayed the ball, allowing Medford to score and the Northwest Stars to tie the game at 6-6.
- Jett Schoolcraft and the Northwest Stars escaped a one-out, bases-loaded jam in the top of the sixth inning thanks to a strikeout and an infield flyout to keep the score tied at six apiece.
- William Holly led off the top of the seventh inning with a single and Grady Wright launched a fly ball to right center for a double to put runners on second and third with no outs for the Northeast Stripes. Maykel Jimenez followed with the clutch hit: an RBI-double to left center to retake the lead, 7-6.
- Back-to-back errors by the Northwest Stars shortstop and third baseman allowed three more Northeast Stripes runs to score in the top of the seventh inning, giving them a commanding 10-6 lead.
- Ten different batters tallied hits for the Northeast Stripes in the championship game, led by Jaden Godette with three RBIs.
- Benjamin Medford led both teams offensively on the day, going 3-for-4 with a run scored for the Northwest Stars.
- Colton Byrnes went 2-for-3 with an RBI and a run scored for the Northwest Stars and Uriyeh Marguth tallied three RBIs courtesy of a two-RBI triple and a sacrifice fly.
- Ryan Lemm was stellar in relief for the Northeast Stripes, striking out five batters and giving up just one hit in three innings pitched to earn the victory.
- Michael Ohman was strong in his start for the Northwest Stars, striking out five batters and surrendering just one run in his four innings of work in the no-decision.
- Northeast Stripes’ starter William Holly gave up four earned runs in his three innings of work and Isaac Shulman gave up two runs in his sole inning on the mound.
- Jett Schoolcraft suffered the loss for the Northwest Stars, giving up four runs (three earned) on five hits in 1.2 innings. He struck out two batters.
Southwest Stars Claim 13U NTIS Champions Cup Gold With Shutout Win Over South Stripes
CARY, N.C. - Southwest Stars scored runs in four of the first five innings en route to its 7-0 shutout win over South Stripes on Sunday in the gold medal game of the 13U National Team Identification Series (NTIS) Champions Cup.
The squad plated two runs in each of the first two innings, then tacked on a combined three runs in the fourth and fifth innings while holding South Stripes to just four hits in the contest.
HOW IT HAPPENED
- Southwest Stars quickly took a 2-0 lead in the first inning on four hits. Andrew Jiminez and Scott Yuan laced a double and single, respectively, to get into scoring position, and Joel Vargas drove in the first run of the game on an infield single. Owen Mescall then stepped up to the plate and produced a run batted in with a fielder’s choice to the shortstop to double the lead.
- Southwest added to its lead in the second inning with two more runs to make it 4-0. At first and third with two outs, Lucas Alfaro-Chuan and Jason Taylor pulled off the double steal to plate the first run of the frame. Andrew Jiminez then delivered with a single up the middle to drive home Alfaro-Chuan.
- Southwest tacked on a run in the fourth inning to extend its lead to 5-0. Orion Gonzalez started the side with a single through the right side, and after stealing second and third he came home on Lucas Alfaro-Chuan’s RBI single to center field.
- In the fifth inning Southwest plated two more runs to take a 7-0 lead. Owen Mescall and Trevor Rivas started the frame with outfield singles and stolen bases, and then an RBI groundout by Brogan Witcher followed by a wild pitch brought the runners across home plate.
- Southwest Stars tallied 14 hits in the contest and held South Stripes to just four.
- This marked the third gold medal for the Southwest Region at the 13U age group in the last six years, and it was the first since 2019.
- Lucas Alfaro-Chuan (2-for-4), Andrew Jiminez (3-for-3), and Trevor Rivas (2-for-3) all turned in multi-hit performances to combine for half of Southwest’s hits.
- Andrew Jiminez was also stellar on the mound for Southwest, as he tossed 5.2 shutout innings with seven strikeouts to earn the win. Orion Gonzalez closed out the game on the bump as he threw 1.1 hitless innings in relief.
- South Stripes’ Aiden DeLeon was charged with the loss as he allowed four earned runs in 3.0 innings pitched.
FEATURE: RJ Farrell Uses Gold Medal Experience With 13U NTIS Champions Cup Task Force
Year in and year out, the National Team Identification Series (NTIS) Champions Cup continues to give the opportunity to 12 players from six age groups to one day compete for a gold medal with Team USA.
One person who is at the National Training Complex this week for the NTIS Champions Cup knows exactly what it takes to win a gold medal for the U.S. – 2022 12U National Team Manager R.J. Farrell.
Farrell is fresh off a gold medal at this year’s World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) U-12 World Baseball Cup in Taiwan. He is in Cary, N.C., this week as a part of the 13U Task Force that is looking for 12 players to participate in next year’s 13U/14U Athlete Development Program (ADP), which is used to determine the players who will be invited to the 15U National Team Training Camp.
“Winning a gold medal with our 12U National Team was an incredible experience. I was on staff three other times as an assistant and we came away with gold twice, but the last time we went we didn’t do as well as we had hoped,” said Farrell. “So going to Taiwan this year and avenging ourselves, watching those boys compete the way they did, and seeing the success that they had was awesome. Bringing back a world championship to the United States of America, there's nothing better than that.”
From training camp to competing on the international stage, Farrell spent several weeks heavily involved with the 12U National Team. His title might have been manager, but his role expanded far beyond that. Farrell, along with the other staff members, had a profound impact on a once in a lifetime opportunity for those young men.
“It's all about trying to get the next generation of baseball players involved with USA Baseball and get those guys who have the talent to go compete internationally for a gold medal. It’s something that is truly special about this organization and what we do. It's gratifying anytime USA Baseball asks me to do anything but being selected as manager and being able to go through a World Cup experience, I really can't think of a better highlight in my career.”
With his experience of serving on staff for a national team on four separate occasions, Farrell understands what defines the makeup of a USA Baseball player when looking for players to invite to next year’s 13U/14U ADP.
“Maturity is the number one thing, and that changes as they grow through the process. It’s a big deal – we need to have kids who can handle themselves abroad because they are representing our country. We know these guys are talented, so really it comes down to character.
“Maybe at age 12 they don't quite understand that yet but at 15 they might, so if we can find a way to instill the USA way into them at a young age, I think that's special.”
Farrell has served on the Task Force at the NTIS Champions Cup numerous times in the past, so that experience combined with being a four-time national team coach helps to provide a valuable perspective when projecting which players move on to ADP.
“Athleticism plays, especially with this age group this week. We're looking for guys with a skill set that we can see now and try and project for next year. There's a lot of changes happening with these young men right now, so it's an intense process when are looking at the physical nature of these guys. If we can find a handful of players who we think have an opportunity to be a national team member one day, that's ultimately what we're looking for.”
Knowing what it takes to not only be a part of Team USA but to be a world champion, Farrell sees there being two important intangible qualities that players need when aspiring to compete on the international stage – playing your game and having good character.
“First and foremost, I think you need to have fun. When you get to an event like this, you can put so much pressure on yourself or try and change your game. But ultimately, you weren't identified the first time for doing anything different than what you’re doing. Stick with your game and understand that your game has to portray on the field the best it can and don't try and be anybody else.
“The second thing is to be the best person you can be. Decision making is important, especially with young teenage boys. We know mistakes happen, but we never want anything that's going to happen off the field that can take away your opportunity on the field. Understanding that being a good person is very important, because when it comes down to it and you're right in line with another guy who might be the same talent level, character is going to prevail.”
Midwest Stripes Earn 12U Crown at NTIS Champions Cup
CARY, N.C. -- After a pitchers’ duel sent a scoreless game into extra innings, the Midwest Stripes topped the Southwest Stripes, 2-1, in the gold medal game at the 12U National Team Identification Series (NTIS) Champions Cup.
Trailing by a run in the bottom of the eighth, the Midwest got to work quickly to score its first run of the game. Tristan Castelar opened the inning with an RBI single to right field to plate Logan Woodbury, who started the inning on second base due to international tiebreaker rules. Then, after the Southwest turned a crucial double play to keep the game tied, an error on a hard grounder off the bat of Drake Foxen gave the Midwest a walk-off 2-1 win.
The game-winning rally came after the Southwest grabbed the lead in the top of the eighth. With the bases loaded and nobody out, an error allowed the Southwest to score the first run of the game. But the Midwest defense stopped the bleeding after that, turning a double play to retire the side and keep within striking distance before they delivered the game-winner in the bottom of the eighth.
HOW IT HAPPENED
- After both sides went down in order in the first, Aiden Vargas singled for the Southwest to notch the first hit of the day.
- Eric Shim hit a two-out single for the Southwest in the top of the fourth but Kip Allen coaxed an inning-ending pop out to keep the game scoreless.
- The Midwest put a runner on when Chase Johnson singled with two outs in the fourth but he was erased on a caught stealing to retire the side.
- Alexander Savov singled to right field with a runner in scoring position for the Southwest in the top of the fifth, but the runner was thrown out at the plate as the Midwest preserved the scoreless tie.
- The Midwest put two runners on in the bottom of the fifth before Josiah Park escaped the jam with a lineout to short.
- Josiah Park and Kip Allen continued to exchange zeroes to send the game to extra innings, where the Southwest grabbed a 1-0 lead when Alexander Savov hit a hard grounder to third base to plate the run.
- Tristan Castelar singled on a ground ball to right field to open the Midwest’s half of the eighth and tie the game at one, scoring Logan Woodbury, who was placed on second base due to international tie breaker rules.
- With two outs and two on, Drake Foxen hit a hard ground ball to third base that bounced out of the third baseman’s glove and scored the game-winning run for the Midwest.
- The gold medal is the Midwest’s second consecutive title at the 12U NTIS. The program also captured gold last summer, knocking off the South.
- Including the bronze medal victory on Sunday, the Midwest now owns four medals in its history at the NTIS.
- The Southwest Region now has two medals at the 2022 NTIS after winning gold in the 15U tournament last week.
- Kip Allen started for the Midwest and turned in six shutout frames, scattering five hits and striking out five. He turned the ball over to Chase Johnson, who finished the game with two strong innings.
- The Southwest got strong pitching in the loss, as Josiah Park tossed seven shutout innings and allowed just two hits. He did not walk a batter and struck out four.
- Tristan Castelar had two of the Midwest’s three hits in the victory, also driving in a run. The other hit for the gold medal winners came from Chase Johnson.
- Aiden Vargas had a game-high two hits for the Southwest. The squad also got one hit from each of its top four hitters in the lineup.
- The Southwest’s Jayden McClean caught two runners attempting to steal in the loss.
Washington Leads Southeast Stars 14U NTIS Champions Cup Gold
CARY, N.C. -- Southeast Stars pitcher Brandon Washington tossed five innings of shutout baseball and struck out six batters in a 3-1 victory over Northwest Stars in the championship game of the 14U National Team Identification Series (NTIS) Champions Cup on Coleman Field on Sunday at the USA Baseball National Training Complex.
After withstanding a two hour and 10 minute-weather delay following the first inning of the finale, Southeast Stars put the pressure on the Northwest Stars immediately. The first run scored on a bases loaded wild pitch and Joshua Wilhide and Leo Lupienski followed with RBIs in the infield to go ahead 3-0.
That score would hold thanks to stellar pitching from Washington and tremendous defense that seemingly kept Northwest Stars one hit away from getting back into the game. The Northwest Stars would finally tally a run in the bottom of the sixth thanks to a bases loaded hit-by-pitch to Chase Johnson, but it was all the offense they could muster on the day as Southeast Stars won 3-1.
HOW IT HAPPENED
- Brandon Washington led the game off for Southeast Stars with a double but Northwest Star’s Braeden Butler eliminated the early threat with an unassisted double play, snagging a liner and diving into the second-base bag for the double play.
- The defense carried into the bottom of the first inning as Southeast Stars’ Leo Lupienski made an incredible backwards diving catch at the warning track in left field to end the inning.
- The game was delayed for two hours and 10 minutes due to inclement weather and resumed at 10:33 a.m.
- Southeast Stars scored the first run of the game thanks to a bases-loaded wild pitch by Northwest Stars starter Eric Johnson. An RBI-groundout to second from Joshua Wilhide and an RBI-single up the middle by Leo Lupienski put Southeast up three in the top of the second inning.
- The Northwest Stars threatened in the bottom of the third, putting runners on first and second with one out, but Eric Johnson induced an infield-fly and a strikeout to escape the jam and head into the fourth with the 3-0 lead.
- With Southeast Stars’ Jalen Moton on third base with two outs in the top of the fourth inning, Davis Wilson made a diving play on a short ball in center to end the inning and keep the Northwest Stars in striking distance.
- Chase Johnson drew a one-out bases loaded hit-by-pitch in the bottom of the sixth inning to push across a run for Northwest Stars; however, Southeast Stars reliever Joshua Wilhide came in and escaped the jam to keep Southeast up 3-1.
- Southeast Stars starting pitcher Brandon Washington earned the victory on the mound, pitching five innings of shutout baseball and striking out six batters.
- Joshua Wilhide struck out two batters over the final 1.2 innings to earn the save for Southeast Stars.
- Northwest Stars starter Eric Johnson gave up three runs on three hits to suffer the loss. Johnson struck out one batter on the day in 2.1 innings pitched.
- Adam Plascencia was strong in relief for Northwest Stars, striking out two batters in 2.2 innings before turning the ball over to Emmett Brown, who pitched two innings of hitless baseball.
- In addition to a SportsCenter-worthy diving play in the first inning, Leo Lupienski went 1-for-2 with an RBI-single for Southeast Stars.
- In addition to a stellar outing on the mound, Brandon Washington went 1-for-2 with a walk, tallying one of three hits on the day for Southeast Stars.
- Despite the loss, Northwest Stars outhit the Southeast Stars 5-3, with hits from Adam Plascencia, Makai Plaza, Seddrick Henderson III, Sam Lakey, and Wyatt Plyler.
- The 11U/13U NTIS Champions Cup will begin with the Opening Ceremonies on Wednesday, August 24, and games will begin on Thursday, August 24 from the National Training Complex and Thomas Brooks Park in Cary, North Carolina.
World Champ Cristian Matos Returns to Cary for 12U NTIS
CARY, N.C. -- Just two weeks ago, Cristian Matos was celebrating a world title at the VI World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) U-12 Baseball World Cup in Tainan, Taiwan.
Now, the world champ is back stateside and looking to continue progressing through USA Baseball programming.
Matos is currently playing for the Northeast Stars at the 12U National Team Identification Series (NTIS) Champions Cup in Cary, North Carolina. With a strong performance at the event, Matos can earn an invitation to the 2023 13U/14U Athlete Development Program (ADP).
“It would mean a lot to be selected to the ADP from NTIS this year,” he said. “I am still trying to get familiar with the ADP, but I really want to make it.”
USA Baseball’s ADP is a highly developed four-day on- and off-field national team-level instruction and education program. The event features advanced on-field skills development in front of USA Baseball task force and coaches, in addition to an off-field component for athletes that focuses on education regarding subjects like the NCAA and recruiting process, nutrition, strength and conditioning, and more.
Twelve players will be selected from this year’s 12U NTIS to participate in next summer’s ADP.
Matos brings experience to the NTIS that only few players at his age have. The Belleville, New Jersey, native learned a lot both on and off the field during his 12U National Team trip to Taiwan and has brought that back with him to Cary.
A major thing that Matos learned in Taiwan was that any player can contribute to the game at any time. After not playing for the first six innings of Team USA’s super round game against Mexico, Matos came off the bench and launched a pinch-hit homer to tie the score in the game’s final frame.
“That game-tying home run against Mexico was really exciting for me,” Matos said. “I sat the entire game and then came in and tied the game with a home run. I was really pumped up and it was really exciting.”
It was one of three homers that Matos hit for the U.S. in the tournament. He batted .500 (4-for-8) with the three blasts, driving in five runs. He also made two appearances on the mound, striking out three batters in two innings of work. Team USA went unbeaten in the tournament, beating Venezuela, 10-2, to earn it’s world-best fourth gold medal.
After returning to the United States on August 8, Matos was back at the USA Baseball National Training Complex just a few days later. His older brother, Rafael, competed for the Northeast Region at the 15U NTIS which began on August 11. It’s now Cristian’s turn at the 12U event, his second consecutive year competing in the NTIS.
Last summer, Matos earned his spot at 12U National Team Trials after being selected from the 11U NTIS. With one day remaining in the tournament, Matos has been enjoying the return to the process.
“Being back at NTIS is great,” Matos said. “This tournament is really fun. Getting to know some of the coaches and the players is really cool. Last year, it didn’t go so well for us but we’re playing well this year.”
Matos is focused on the success of his team this week at the NTIS, but also has his eyes on hearing his name called during the NTIS Selection Show, which will air after all age groups have been completed.
After all, he is locked in on one thing as he continues his young baseball career.
“My goal is to make every single USA Baseball event,” Matos said.
Southwest Stars Win 15U, South Stripes Claim 16U Title at NTIS Champions Cup
CARY, N.C. -- The Southwest Stars capped an unbeaten week at the 15U National Team Identification Series (NTIS) Champions Cup with a 12-1 victory over the Northwest Stars in the gold medal game on Sunday afternoon in Cary, North Carolina.
Southwest scored twice in the top of the first and continued to build on the lead in the victory, including a three-run fifth inning to pull away. After Jake Boucher and Jaden Panda Liu singled and Moises Razo walked to to load the bases in the fifth, Stephen Crater socked a bases-clearing, three-run double the help Southwest pull away.
HOW IT HAPPENED
- Southwest got on the board quickly in the top of the first, scratching two runs across. The first run was plated when Kenneth Park scored on an RBI groundout by Nathan Chavez, and the Southwest lead grew to 2-0 when Jack Boucher scored on a wild pitch.
- Northwest threatened in the bottom of the second, putting a pair of runners on before Stephen Crater coaxed a 4-6-3 double play to retire the side.
- Kenneth Park tripled and scored on a two-out double by Jack Boucher as Southwest extended its lead to 3-0 in the third.
- After Peyton Richards led off Northwest's half of the third with a single, Gavin Kramer induced another double play to maintain Southwest's three-run lead.
- A leadoff single by Thomas Brown in the bottom of the fourth was erased on another double play, keeping the score at 3-0 in favor of Southwest.
- With the bases loaded and two outs in the top of the fifth, Stephen Crater delivered a bases-clearing double to deep left field to extend Southwest's lead to 6-0.
- Nathan Chavez stole third base and scored on an errant throw, giving Southwest a 7-0 advantage in the top of the sixth.
- Northwest got on the board in the bottom of the sixth when Tait Reynolds drove in Ethan Sullivan with an RBI single back up the middle.
- Southwest rallied for five more runs in the seventh to put the game away. Nathan Chavez and Stephen Crater each had RBI singles in the inning, while two runs scored on an error and another was plated on a wild pitch to give Southwest a 12-1 lead it would go on to win by.
- The gold medal is the Southwest Region's second all-time title at the 15U level, with the last coming in 2017.
- The Southwest, winners of the last two NTIS Champions Cups, kicked off the 2022 event with another gold to get off to a strong start.
- Northwest clinches its third-consecutive medal at the NTIS 15U NTIS, as the region earned bronze in 2021 and both gold and bronze in 2019.
- Southwest scored multiple runs in three of its seven turns at-bat, including two in the first, three in the fifth, and five in the seventh.
- The Southwest defense turned three doubles plays in three consecutive innings in the victory.
- Gavin Kramer took the mound in relief in the third inning and allowed just one run over the final five innings to earn the win for Southwest. Kramer only ran into trouble in the bottom of the sixth, and after allowing a run, escaped a jam with a clutch strikeout looking.
- Jake Sekany suffered the loss for Northwest, allowing five earned runs in 4.1 innings pitched.
South Stripes plated the first run of the contest in the third inning, and despite Northeast Stars responding with a pair of runs in the fourth, South Stripes plated seven unanswered runs in the fourth and fifth innings en route to the first-ever gold medal for the South Region at the 16U level.
HOW IT HAPPENED
- South Stripes struck first with a run in the third inning when Ty Powell scored on Landon Schaefer's RBI single to left field after leading off the side with a double to right field.
- Northeast Stars answered in the fourth inning with a pair of runs to take a 2-1 lead when Brayden Hy scored on an RBI groundout to second and Anthony Savino crossed home plate on a run-scoring single by Ryan Brown through the left side.
- South took its lead back in the bottom half of the fourth at 3-2 when Victor Coronado and Jackson Morris led off the inning with back-to-back base hits, and then a pair of errors allowed both runners to cross home plate.
- South extended its lead to 8-2 in the fifth, scoring five runs on four hits and an error. The inning was highlighted by a RBI single by Ed Small, back-to-back sacrifice flies Landon Schaefer and Kaden McCoy, and a RBI double by Masa Chilcut.
- The victory marks the first-ever gold medal for the South Region at the 16U level. Additionally, it is the first-ever medal for the Northeast Region at the 16U level as it claimed silver.
- All eight of South's runs were in the third, fourth, and fifth innings.
- Ty Powell led all players with a 2-for-3 performance at the plate, as it was the only multi-hit outing of the game.
- Northeast starting pitcher Matthew Vanostenbridge tallied seven strikeouts while Gary Perone fanned three batters for a combined 10 on the day for their squad. Vanostenbridge was saddled with the loss as he surrendered five earned runs in 4.2 innings.
- Cooper Rummel tossed four innings to pick up the win on the mound for South, allowing two earned runs on two hits with a pair of strikeouts.
- Mark Brissey and Caleb Hines combined to toss three shutout innings in relief and fanned six batters for South.
- South Stripes outhit Northeast Stars, 10-5.
Twenty USA Baseball Alumni and Development Program Participants Named Gatorade State Baseball Players of the Year
CARY, N.C. – USA Baseball today announced that 10 USA Baseball national team alumni and 20 total development program participants were awarded 2022 Gatorade Player of the Year awards for baseball in their respective states. The award is given to the nation’s most outstanding high school talents for their athletic development, academic excellence, and exemplary character.
“We are extremely proud of our twenty alumni and development program participants for earning Gatorade State Baseball Player of the Year honors to cap off their high school baseball careers,” said Paul Seiler, USA Baseball’s Executive Director and CEO. “Our goal as the national governing body for baseball is to identify premier athletes and contribute to their growth through our events, programs, and national teams. Witnessing these young athletes being honored with an award like this reinforces that we are succeeding in our goals and positively influencing their ongoing development.”
Highlighting the national team alumni on the list is gold medalist Logan Saloman. Saloman was named Arizona’s Gatorade State Baseball Player of the Year three years after winning the World Baseball Softball (WBSC) U-15 Baseball World Cup Americas Qualifier in 2019. En route to gold, he struck out 16 batters in his 12 innings of work and finished with a 1-0 record after making three appearances on the mound for the stars and stripes.
Of the 10 alumni, nine were members of the 2021 18U National Team that went 5-1-1 in an international friendship series against Canada: Joe Allen (New Hampshire), Gavin Guidry (Louisiana), Jackson Holliday (Oklahoma), Walker Jenkins (North Carolina), Druw Jones (Georgia), Mike Kennedy (New York), Paxton Kling (Pennsylvania), Blake Mitchell (Texas), and Owen Murphy (Illinois). The U.S. outscored Canada 60-11 last summer, tallying 23 extra-base hits and holding a minuscule 1.53 team ERA in the seven-game series in Florida.
In addition to their national team experiences, all 10 national team alums have also participated in a USA Baseball development program event. Jenkins, Mitchell, and Saloman were members of a National Team Development Program (NTDP) roster in their careers and are joined by fellow NTDP participants Maxwell Clark (Indiana) and Malcolm Moore (California) on the list of Gatorade State Baseball Players of the Year. The USA Baseball NTDP offers athletes an opportunity to connect with USA Baseball staff to better prepare for a future national team experience. The program includes skill development sessions, off-field education seminars, and intrasquad Stars vs. Stripes games to assist in the development of the athletes as both a player and a person.
Allen, Guidry, Holliday, Jones, Kennedy, Kling, Moore, and Murphy all participated in the 2021 PDP League last year as part of the broader Major League Baseball and USA Baseball Prospect Development Pipeline (PDP). The event is an invitation-based development and assessment opportunity for high school players eligible for the following year’s MLB Draft. It provides athletes with an unprecedented amateur experience, including competitive gameplay, player development sessions, educational seminars, and additional programming to prepare players for a professional baseball career. Their fellow teammates Caden Dana (New Jersey), Cooper Dossett (Arkansas), Karson Milbrandt (Missouri), Drew Nelson (Alabama), Brock Porter (Michigan), JR Ritchie (Washington), Matt Scott (Connecticut), and Tristan Smith (South Carolina) also earned Gatorade State Baseball Player of the Year honors after participating the in 2021 PDP League.
Additionally, 26 of the Gatorade State Baseball Players of the Year have competed in a USA Baseball identification event or the National High School Invitational (NHSI). The 2022 NHSI featured five eventual winners, including champion Roman Anthony (Marjory Stoneman Douglas; Florida), Dana (Don Bosco Prep; New Jersey), Seth Keller (Hanover; Virginia), Dallas Macias (Regis Jesuit; Colorado), and Saloman (Hamilton; Arizona).
Twenty of the award recipients have played in a USA Baseball National Team Championship (seven in Arizona and 15 in North Carolina) while nine were selected to their region team and played in the USA Baseball National Team Identification Series Champions Cup.
Seventeen of the award recipients have played in the USA Baseball National Team Championships in North Carolina.
For more information on the Gatorade Player of the Year award, visit the official website at Gatorade.com/POY.
The complete list of USA Baseball national team alumni, development program, and event participants who were named 2022 Gatorade State Baseball Players of the Year is as follows:
GATORADE STATE BASEBALL PLAYERS OF THE YEAR x NATIONAL TEAM ALUMNI AND DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM PARTICIPANTS
(State: Name; USA Baseball national team/development program)
- Alabama: Drew Nelson; 2021 PDP League
- Arizona: Logan Saloman*; 2018 14U NTDP, 2019 15U National Team
- Arkansas: Cooper Dossett; 2021 PDP League
- California: Malcolm Moore; 2019 16U NTDP, 2021 PDP League
- Connecticut: Matt Scott; 2021 PDP League
- Georgia: Druw Jones*; 2021 PDP League, 2021 18U National Team
- Illinois: Owen Murphy*; 2021 PDP League, 2021 18U National Team
- Indiana: Maxwell Clark; 2021 16U/17U NTDP
- Louisiana: Gavin Guidry*; 2021 PDP League, 2021 18U National Team
- Michigan: Brock Porter; 2021 PDP League
- Missouri: Karson Milbrandt; 2021 PDP League
- New Hampshire: Joe Allen*; 2021 PDP League, 2021 18U National Team
- New Jersey: Caden Dana; 2021 PDP League
- New York: Mike Kennedy*; 2021 PDP League, 2021 18U National Team
- North Carolina: Walker Jenkins*; 2021 16U/17U NTDP, 2021 18U National Team
- Oklahoma: Jackson Holliday*; 2021 PDP League, 2021 18U National Team
- Pennsylvania: Paxton Kling*; 2021 PDP League, 2021 18U National Team
- South Carolina: Tristan Smith; 2021 PDP League
- Texas: Blake Mitchell*; 2021 16U/17U NTDP, 2021 18U National Team
- Washington: JR Ritchie; 2021 PDP League
*denotes USA Baseball National Team alumni
GATORADE STATE BASEBALL PLAYERS OF THE YEAR x USA BASEBALL EVENTS PARTICIPANTS
(State: Name; USA Baseball event)
- Alabama; Drew Nelson; Champs North Carolina
- Arizona; Logan Saloman; Champs Arizona, NHSI, NTIS
- Arkansas; Cooper Dossett; Champs Arizona, NTIS
- California; Malcolm Moore; Champs Arizona
- Colorado; Dallas Macias; Champs North Carolina, NHSI, NTIS
- Florida; Roman Anthony; Champs North Carolina, NHSI
- Hawaii; Nu'u Contrades; Champs Arizona
- Illinois; Owen Murphy; Champs North Carolina
- Maryland; Chris Hacopian; Champs North Carolina
- Michigan; Brock Porter; Champs North Carolina
- Mississippi; Dakota Jordan; Champs North Carolina
- Nevada; Robby Snelling; Champs Arizona, Champs North Carolina
- New York; Mike Kennedy; Champs North Carolina
- Pennsylvania; Paxton Kling; Champs North Carolina
- South Carolina; Tristan Smith; Champs North Carolina
- Tennessee; Dylan Loy; Champs North Carolina
- Texas; Blake Mitchell; Champs North Carolina, NTIS
- Utah; Luke Anderson; Champs Arizona
- Washington; JR Ritchie; Champs Arizona, Champs North Carolina
- Wisconsin; Mitch Voit; Champs North Carolina
USA Baseball Announces 2021 National Team Identification Series Selections
CARY, N.C. – USA Baseball today announced the 72 athletes selected from the 2021 National Team Identification Series (NTIS) for its 2022 national team programming, following the completion of the NTIS Champions Cup that was held at the National Training Complex in Cary, North Carolina, from August 11-29. The announcement was first made on the USA Baseball NTIS Selection Show, which can be found on USABaseball.com and the organization’s YouTube channel, USABaseballTV.
The NTIS is USA Baseball’s most comprehensive player identification program and includes six age groups ranging from 11U-16U. Under the direction of USA Baseball Regional Directors, tryouts are held in every region of the country to be identified and selected for their regional teams, and invited to the NTIS Champions Cup in Cary, North Carolina.
The 2021 NTIS Champions Cup featured over 1,200 of the nation’s best players competing in 144 games, as well as skill testing and on-field evaluations run by USA Baseball Task Force and national team coaches.
“After an incredible month of competition, we are excited to announce the seventy-two athletes who have been selected out of our National Team Identification Series for next year’s national team programming,” said USA Baseball Assistant Director of Baseball Operations Ann Claire Roberson. “The outstanding talent at this year’s Champions Cup in Cary made for a very difficult selection process for our task force members and national team program directors, but we are looking forward to watching these players continue to grow in the coming year and seeing their impact on our 2022 programming.”
Twelve athletes from each age group were invited to compete in the following year’s age-appropriate national team programming events, including the 2022 12U National Team Trials, the 2022 13U/14U Athlete Development Program (ADP), the 2022 15U National Team Trials, and the 2022 16U/17U National Team Development Program (NTDP).
In total, the 72 athletes selected are from twenty-three different states and all six regions from across the U.S.
The 2021 National Team Identification Series selections are as follows:
Name; Position; Hometown; Region
- 2022 12U National Team Trials invitees:
- (from 11U NTIS)
- Trenton Finley; C; Lebanon, Tenn.; Southeast
- Anthony Frausto; INF/LHP; New Braunfels, Texas; South
- Mason Harris; INF/RHP; Rocklin, Calif.; Northwest
- Landon King; INF/RHP; San Mateo, Calif.; Northwest
- Grady Klovstad; OF; Orange, Calif.; Southwest
- Cristian Matos; C/RHP; Belleville, N.J.; Northeast
- Braiden Miller; INF/RHP; Waterford, Va.; Northeast
- Ethan Orozco; C/RHP; Chula Vista, Calif.; Southwest
- James Stout; C; Artesia, Calif.; Southwest
- Elliot Su; INF/RHP; Rochester, Minn.; Midwest
- Maximus Villalva; INF; El Cajon, Calif.; Southwest
- Ellis White; INF/1B; Concord, N.C.; Southeast
- 2022 13U/14U Athlete Development Program invitees:
- (from 12U NTIS)
- Caleb Alexander; IF/RHP; Houston, Texas; South
- Brady Bickham; IF/RHP; Claremont, Calif.; Southwest
- Caden Borcherding; C/IF; McDonough, Ga.; Southeast
- Chase Cotton; IF/RHP; Lincoln, Calif.; Northwest
- Zachary Estrada; OF/RHP; Covina, Calif.; Southwest
- Aaron Garcia; IF/C; Pico Rivera, Calif.; Southwest
- Jacob Gray; MIF; Benicia, Calif.; Northwest
- Kekahupono Kong; RHP/C; Mililani, Hawaii; Southwest
- Jackson Maddix; OF/LHP; Pittsburgh, Pa.; Northeast
- Logan Pascarella; LHP/IF; Corona, Calif.; Southwest
- Blake Ragsdale; IF/RHP; Burr Ridge, Ill.; Midwest
- Jacob Seamon; OF/RHP; Rolling Meadows, Ill.; Midwest
- 2022 13U/14U Athlete Development Program invitees:
- (from 13U NTIS)
- Blake Bowen; OF/IF; Riverside, Calif.; Southwest
- Lincoln Boyle; RHP/IF; Overland Park, Kan.; South
- Judson Dowell; IF/RHP; Houston, Texas; South
- Andruw Giles; OF/IF; Henderson, Nev.; Southwest
- Aaron Hernandez; LHP/OF; Miami, Fla.; Southeast
- Archer Horn; IF/RHP; San Mateo, Calif.; Northwest
- Josiah Morris; C/IF; Oakley, Calif.; Northwest
- Joshua Priest; IF/OF; San Diego, Calif.; Southwest
- Taytum Reeves; C/IF; Menifee, Calif.; Southwest
- Logan Schmidt; LHP/IF; Villa Park, Calif.; Southwest
- Dylan Seward; IF/RHP; Eastvale, Calif.; Southwest
- Julian Suarez; C/IF; Sinton, Texas; South
- 2022 15U National Team Trials invitees:
- (from 14U NTIS)
- Marcus Cantu; IF/RHP; Friendswood, Texas; South
- John Dolan; C/IF; Huffman, Texas; Southm
- Ethan Downum; OF/LHP; Frisco, Texas; South
- Magdiel Estevez; OF/LHP; Miami, Fla.; Southeastk
- Gian Gamelli; LHP/IF; Wenham, Mass.; Northeast
- Reid Jacobson; IF/RHP; Albuquerque, N.M.; Southwest
- Lyndon Lee; IF/IF; Las Vegas, Nev.; Southwest
- Carlos Machado; IF/RHP; Pembroke Pines, Fla.; Southeast
- Brady Murrietta; C/IF; Yorba Linda, Calif.; Southwest
- Davidenko Rodriguez; IF/OF; Katy, Texas; South
- Sebastian Segura; IF; Spring, Texas; South
- John Austin Wood; C/IF; Tupelo, Miss.; Southeast
- 2022 16U/17U National Team Development Program invitees:
- (from 15U NTIS)
- Alec Blair; OF/LHP; Lafayette, Calif.; Northwest
- Cash Campbell; IF/RHP; Downers Grove, Ill.; Midwest
- Kayson Cunningham; IF/OF; San Antonio, Texas; South
- Jonathan Dobis; OF/RHP; Eagan, Minn.; Midwest
- Conor Essenburg; IF/LHP; Manhattan, Ill.; Midwest
- Jake Evans; IF/OF; Long Beach, Calif.; Southwest
- Ross Felder; RHP/IF; Springdale, Ark.; Southwest
- Aidan Hall; IF/RHP; Galt, Calif.; Northwest
- Jake Haruki; C/OF; Irvine, Calif.; Southwest
- Cooper Moss; RHP/IF; Panama City Beach, Fla.; Southeast
- Jacob Smith; IF/RHP; Winston Salem, N.C.; Southeast
- Quindon Wright; OF/RHP; Albany, Ga.; Southeast
- 2022 16U/17U National Team Development Program invitees:
- (from 16U NTIS)
- Danny Arambula; IF/OF; Redlands, Calif.; Southwest
- Andrew (AJ) Garcia; OF/LHP; Chicago, Ill.; Midwest
- Holden Harris; RHP/IF; Leander, Texas; South
- Leighton Harris; LHP/IF; Lexington, Ky.; Midwest
- Joshua Knoth; RHP/OF; Medford, N.Y.; Northeast
- Joe McGee; OF; Danville, Calif.; Northwest
- Joseph McMannis; RHP/IF; Emmitsburg, Md.; Northeast
- Bryce Navarre; LHP/IF; Lake Charles, La.; Southwest
- Landon O'Donnell; IF; Valrico, Fla.; Southeast
- Owen Paino; IF/OF; Poughkeepsie, N.Y.; Northeast
- Gabriel Tirado; C/IF; Newington, Conn.; Northeast
- Joey Tonnotti; RHP/OF; Southington, Conn.; Northeast
Claycomb, Dolan lead South Stars to 14U NTIS Champions Cup Gold
|WP: Jeffrey Claycomb | LP: Nathan Chavez|
CARY, N.C. -- The South Stars tallied runs in three consecutive innings and picked up a stellar outing in relief by Jeffrey Claycomb to defeat the Southwest Stripes, 4-1, in the gold medal game of the 14U National Team Identification Series (NTIS) Champions Cup on Coleman Field at the USA Baseball National Training Complex in Cary, North Carolina.
The win secured the South region’s second championship at the 2021 NTIS Champions Cup, following the 13U South Stars gold medal win over the Southwest Stars last week.
The South Stars came and conquered 👊🏼— USABEvents (@USABEvents) August 29, 2021
Congratulations @SouthNTIS #NTIS21 #EarnTheCup 🏆 pic.twitter.com/aTGfEMVVgr
Southwest Stripes’ Miles Scott led off the game with a single and moved into scoring position with one out to start the game; however, South Stars catcher John Dolan threw him out trying to steal third and ended the early offensive threat. Dolan followed that up by throwing out two more base runners in the top of the second inning, tossing out Ryder DeJournett and Brock Johnson in back-to-back at-bats to end the second.
The Southwest Stripes once again threatened in the third inning after a walk, a hit-by-pitch, and a bunt single loaded the bases with no outs. But, back-to-back infield flies and a fielder’s choice to short ended the threat to keep the game scoreless.
Bryce Nixon tallied the first hit of the game for the South Stars to lead off the bottom of the third inning, and followed it up with scoring the first run of the game on an RBI-single down the left-field line by Davidenko Rodriguez to give South Stars a 1-0 lead.
Dolan then contributed with the bat, leading off the fourth inning with a single and moving into scoring position when Marcus Cantu was hit by a pitch. South Stars’ starting pitcher Joseph Carreon followed with a booming two-run double to left field to extend their lead to 3-0.
The Southwest Stripes tried to rally. A walk and a single led off the top of the fifth inning to kickstart their lineup and a sacrifice bunt by Anthony Murphy moved runners to second and third. That is when Jeffrey Claycomb came on in relief for the South Stars and took over the game from there, picking up back-to-back strikeouts to keep the Southwest Stripes off the board.
Ethan Downum legged out an infield single to lead off the bottom of the fifth for the South Stars and advanced to third on a Davidenko Rodriguez single and an error by the right fielder. Dolan followed with his second hit of the game with an RBI-single to left to put South Stars up 4-0.
Down to their final three outs, Jeffrey Peters III slammed a lead-off double to right-center in the top of the seventh inning for the Southwest Stripes. Down to their final out and with Peters on third, Luke Herrera came on to pinch hit. Facing Claycomb, he struck out swinging, but the ball got past Dolan, allowing him to advance to first and Peters to score from third to cut the deficit to three.
But that is all Claycomb would allow, picking up a groundout to third base on the very next batter to close the game out, securing the 4-1 win and the gold medal for the South Stars.
Nathan Chavez suffered the loss on the mound for the Southwest Stripes, giving up three runs and striking out two batters in his 3.1 innings of work. Jack Lorenz gave up a run in his 1.0 inning of work, striking out one, and Jason Rodriguez struck out two batters in his 1.2 innings of scoreless relief.
Claycomb picked up the win in relief for the South Stars, striking out five batters and giving up just one hit and one unearned run in 3.0 innings. The South Stars starter, Carreon, gave up three hits in 3.0 innings in a no-decision and Antonio Solis gave up a pair of hits in his scoreless inning of work as well.
Offensively, Dolan (2-for-2, RBI) and Skyler Branam (2-for-3) led the South Stars offense with multiple hits on the day, while Carreon (1-for-1) contributed half of the team’s RBIs with his double in the fourth inning. Bruin Agbayani led the Southwest Stripes offense on the day, finishing 2-for-3.
Southwest Stars Walk-off to Win 11U NTIS Gold Medal
CARY, N.C. -- The Southwest Stars overcame a three-run deficit to claim gold at the 11U National Team Identification Series (NTIS) Champions Cup, topping the South Stripes, 5-4, in walk-off fashion at Thomas Brooks Park in Cary, North Carolina.
After falling behind for the second consecutive game, the Stars rallied for three runs in the fifth before Grady Klovstad's walk-off single in the seventh clinched the gold medal.
The scoring started early in the contest, with the Stars jumping out to a quick lead after a scoreless top of the inning from Josh Johnson. Carson Reis hit an RBI-single in the bottom of the frame to give the Stars an early 1-0 advantage.
The Stripes struck back quickly in their next at-bats. Anthony Frausto led off the inning with a single and advanced to second on Dylan Mercado's infield hit to put a pair of runners on. A wild pitch then put the runners on second and third, and Frausto scored on a sacrifice fly by Gabriel Silva-Whatley to tie the game.
The Stars put a runner on base in their half of the second but didn't score before the Stripes rallied in the third to take the lead. The inning started with a double by Beau Stevens, who was eventually plated on a sacrifice fly by Arden Calagan to make it 2-1. William Pepper scored on an error to extend the lead, and Frausto drove in another run with a double to give the Stripes a 4-1 lead.
After the Stars scored on a wild pitch in the fourth, they rallied for two more runs in the fifth to tie the game. Maximus Villalva got the inning started with a walk before scoring on an RBI-double by Grady Alonso, who would come around to tie the game on an RBI-ground out.
Grady Klovstad and Dylan Hottle exchanged scoreless innings in the sixth to send the game to the seventh in a 4-4 tie. Micah Wilcox took the mound in the top of the seventh for the Stars, keeping the Stripes off the scoreboard.
Villalva led off the bottom of the inning with a single and stole second, putting the winning run in scoring position with no outs. After a hit-by-pitch and single loaded the bases with no outs, Klovstad singled up the middle to plate the winning run and secure the gold medal for the Stars.
Trailblazers: Naomi Ryan, Veronica Alvarez Reunite at NTIS Champions Cup
CARY, N.C. – A couple years ago at the Trailblazer Series – a joint program presented by Major League Baseball and USA Baseball that gives girls and women in baseball a chance to showcase their talent – Veronica Alvarez met Naomi Ryan.
Alvarez was a coach, and Ryan was playing in the event, which was established in 2017 and includes competitive play, instruction, and community outreach. It’s an event that both Alvarez and Ryan are thankful for and are proud to be a part of.
Now, the two are reunited. Alvarez and Ryan are both in Cary, North Carolina this weekend for the National Team Identification Series Champions Cup at the USA Baseball National Training Complex.
Alvarez, who is serving on the USA Baseball Task Force, is at the event identifying players to participate in future USA Baseball programming. She is a member of a large group, with eyes locked on the competition at all times.
Ryan is a player at the event, competing with the 14U Northeast Stars. She’s thrilled to be at the same event as Alvarez, who she looks at as a mentor and role model for women in baseball. Ryan is motivated to represent her region, but also to show that she belongs.
"I'm just trying to prove that I play like the rest of them," Ryan said. "I work hard and I think I can do it."
Alvarez has enjoyed watching Ryan grow as a baseball player, is excited that she is competing at the NTIS.
“I absolutely love seeing girls staying involved in the game and showcasing that their talent is good enough,” Alvarez said. “It’s really cool to see Naomi develop not only physically, but also to develop with the opportunities she’s getting in the game of baseball.”
Alvarez serves as the manager for the USA Baseball Women’s National Team, a position she has held since 2019. A former catcher, Alvarez played for the Women's National Team four times before joining the coaching staff in several different capacities, making her way up to manager. She is not only focused on leading Team USA to international success, but also promoting the presence of girls and women in baseball.
“There’s a whole group of girls that grow up playing baseball that nobody recognizes or sees,” Alvarez said. “There’s a whole lot of them that play and love the game and aren’t trying to do something out of the ordinary – they just are, because they’re different.”
Ryan reached out to Alvarez on social media before making the trip to the NTIS, telling the coach that she’d be playing in the event. After the Trailblazer Series a couple years ago, Alvarez and Ryan were happy to be reunited in Cary.
"Learning from Veronica was really great experience," Ryan said. "I've heard a lot about her and how much improvement she's made for women in the game."
Ryan is playing for a chance to earn a spot in future USA Baseball programming. Twelve players will be selected from the 14U NTIS to compete at next year’s 15U National Team Trials, and Ryan is competing to be one of those selections.
Alvarez offered some words of advice for Ryan in her quest to continue to develop in a game where she is mostly surrounded by men.
“Don’t underestimate the people that you’re playing with,” Alvarez said. “Once you prove yourself, they’re going to fall in line and respect your ability.”
After meeting a couple of years ago, Alvarez and Ryan’s paths have crossed again this weekend in Cary. With Ryan an up-and-coming baseball player and Alvarez a well-respected coach, this will certainly not be the last time the two share a baseball field.
Overall Champion Set to be Decided at 11U/14U NTIS Champions Cup
CARY, N.C. – With two weeks in the books at the 2021 National Team Identification Series (NTIS) Champions Cup, only three days of games remain before a champion is crowned.
While the event has winners in each age group, the regions are also competing for the overall Champions Cup. Each game matters, with a point system deciding the overall winner. Teams receive 10 points for a win in bracket play and six for a win in consolation play. A loss in bracket play yields a team five points, and a loss in consolation is two points. A tie in bracket play is seven points, and a consolation tie is three points.
Entering 11U/14U play, which begins on Friday morning at the USA Baseball Complex in Cary, North Carolina, the Southwest currently owns a three-point lead over the South. The Southeast is also in the mix, just a point behind the South.
NTIS Program Director Ann Claire Roberson is excited about the level of competition at the event.
“The past two weeks of NTIS have gone really well,” Roberson said. “We’re really excited about the talent amongst all of the age groups so far, and we’re excited to see what the 11U and 14U age groups bring to the table.”
Pool play action will begin for the 11U and 14U age groups on Friday, playing through Sunday. The 11U games will be held at Thomas Brooks Park, while the 14U athletes will compete at the National Training Complex, including Coleman Field.
Each age group at the NTIS has been not only competing for their regions, but also looking to secure a spot in future USA Baseball programming. This weekend, the 11U players are looking to earn a trip to 2022 12U National Team Trials, while the selected 14U players will go to 2022 15U National Team Trials.
Each weekend, the NTIS Task Force works to identify players for future USA Baseball programming. The task force roams from field to field during games, and helps with instruction during on-field workouts.
Roberson has been impressed by the task force’s hard work and passion for finding the best players for USA Baseball at NTIS.
“The task force has done an incredible job over the past two weeks,” she said. “They’ve had some long, hard decisions and conversations about the large group of players in the event. It makes it hard to make selections, but they work even beyond when the event is completed.”
The players, who are among the best in their region, have given the task force a lot to think about and discuss over the event’s first two weeks.
“We’ve been really happy with the level of talent that has come through the NTIS so far this year,” Roberson said. “The talent has been phenomenal across all ages and all regions.
Selections to future USA Baseball programming will be announced on September 14th. Selected players will be emailed, and announcements will be made throughout USA Baseball’s social media platforms.
The 11U/14U weekend kicked off with an opening ceremony on Wednesday night before the teams returned to the National Training Complex for photos, PDP testing, and on-field workouts on Thursday. Athletes from all over their respective regions are just meeting for the first time, but all have the same goals in mind: to represent their regions and to try to secure a spot in future USA Baseball programming.
With the overall championship up for grabs, the race for the Champions Cup is sure to be a tight finish. Follow along with all of the action on USABaseball.com, and by following on Twitter at @USABEvents.
South Stars Top Southwest Stars to Claim Gold at 13U NTIS Champions Cup
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.
Midwest Stripes Claim 12U NTIS Champions Cup Crown
CARY, N.C. – The Midwest Stripes claimed the gold medal at the 12U National Team Identification Series (NTIS) Champions Cup on Sunday at Thomas Brooks Park in Cary, North Carolina, with a 3-2 defeat of the South Stripes. The victory marks the Midwest region’s first NTIS Champions Cup gold medal.
The Midwest Stripes got the scoring started early in the contest after Jacob Seamon cranked a leadoff double and came across on an RBI groundout off the bat of Griffin Boesen for a 1-0 lead. They added one more in the top of the second with a sacrifice fly that allowed Dominic Talaga to score and make it a 2-0 game.
One inning later, Blake Ragsdale led things off with a single to shallow center and Boesen then collected his second RBI of the game with a single to left field that brought in Ragsdale and gave the Midwest Stripes a 3-0 advantage.
Using a leadoff walk and back-to-back singles to load the bases with one out, Midwest threatened to add to its lead in the top of the fourth but a clutch flyout and a play at the plate got the South Stripes out the jam to keep it a three-run game and take the momentum into the bottom half of the fifth.
After keeping the Midwest squad scoreless through the fourth and fifth innings, the South Stripes put together a rally in the bottom half of the fifth that got them within one. With two runners on and two outs, the South took advantage of a Midwest miscue to plate two runs and make it a 3-2 game heading into the sixth.
The Midwest Stripes wrestled back control in the final two innings, though, with Elijah Jungwirth on the mound. Jungwirth allowed just one hit and collected two strikeouts in the final two innings to hold onto the 3-2 victory and secure the gold medal.
“It’s bigger than just the team, it’s the entire region,” said NTIS Midwest Regional Director Rich Janor. “The Midwest region has never won the Champions Cup, we’ve never brought the gold medal home, so I couldn’t be more excited for our region and what these kids were able to accomplish here today.”
The South Stripes finished with the 12U NTIS Champions Cup silver medal after a strong week in Cary, while earlier in the day, the Northwest Stars earned the 12U NTIS Champions Cup bronze medal when they took down the Northwest Stripes, 12-6. The Northwest Stars jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning of the contest and never looked back, adding runs in the second, fifth, sixth, and seventh innings to keep the Stripes at bay and seal the bronze.
The 2021 NTIS Champions Cup will wrap up next week with its final two age groups as the 11U and 14U regional squads battle it out for their respective gold medals before an overall regional winner is named. The final weekend of the 2021 NTIS Champions Cup will run from August 25-29 at the USA Baseball National Training Complex and Thomas Brooks Park in Cary, North Carolina.
South Stars and Southwest Stars to Meet in 13U NTIS Gold Medal Game
CARY, N.C. – The stage is set for the 13U National Team Identification Series (NTIS) gold medal game.
After picking up wins in Saturday's semifinal round on Saturday at the USA Baseball National Training Complex in Cary, North Carolina, the South Stars and Southwest Stars will meet in the gold medal game on Sunday.
Logan Schmidt fired a complete game shutout in the first semifinal game to lead the Southwest Stars past the Southeast Stars, 6-0.
After Schmidt tossed a 1-2-3 first inning, the Southwest offense got off to a quick start in the bottom of the inning. After putting runners on base to open the inning, Taytum Reeves drove in the first run of the game with an RBI-groundout. Santana Vital scored on a wild pitch to make it 2-0 before two more runs were scored on an error to give the Southwest a four-run lead.
Schmidt kept the Southeast off the board in the top of the second. Dylan Seward led off the bottom of the frame with a double, eventually coming around to score to make it 5-0. The Southwest nearly added on in the following inning, putting runners on second and third before Braeden Harris coaxed a pop-up to keep the Southeast deficit at five.
The Southeast threatened to crack the scoreboard in the top of the fifth when Travis Honeycutt led off the inning with a single. After Schmidt escaped the inning unscathed, the Southwest added a run on a sacrifice fly by Seward to make it 6-0. They nearly added more runs later in the inning, but Southeast second baseman Junior Lopez made an acrobatic catch to limit the Southwest to a run.
The Southeast put another runner on in the sixth but still couldn’t plate a run. The Southwest looked to bust the game open in the bottom of the sixth, putting two runners in scoring position, but were unable to extend the lead.
Harris led off the seventh in the top of the seventh with a double, moving to third with only one out in the inning. But Schmidt induced two consecutive pop outs to secure the win for the Southwest.
“I felt really good out there,” Schmidt said. “I pitched well in the first inning and then my team gave me some run support, so it gave me more room to breathe.”
Southwest head coach Jason Phillips is looking forward to the opportunity to play for gold on Sunday.
“I’m really excited for the guys,” Phillips said. “They’ve responded well, they’re really coachable, and they’re really fun to be around. This is a special honor.”
The South Stars also a strong pitching perfomance from Lincoln Boyle and the bullpen to knock off the Southwest Stripes, 7-2, to move on to the gold medal game.
In the top of the first, the South loaded the bases with one out before plating the first run of the game. Jack Smejkal added an RBI-single to give the South an early two-run lead.
Boyle tossed a 1-2-3 inning in the bottom of the inning to get his start off to a strong start. The South put a pair of runners on in the top of the second, but Southwest starter Ervey Quijada evaded trouble to keep the deficit at two.
Boyle led off the top of the third with a triple to right-center field, eventually scoring before another run was plated to make it 4-0, South.
The Southwest put together one of its best scoring chances in the bottom of the third. With runners on first and second and one out, a blooper fell into center field but an 8-5 putout kept the runners in the same position with two outs. Boyle then induced a flyout to right field to keep the Southwest scoreless.
The South extended its lead in the top of the fifth. Dominic Giametta got on base to lead off the inning, scoring on a double by Judson Dowell to make it 5-0. The lead grew to six after Adam Alvarez plated Dowell with an RBI-single.
Boyle ran into trouble in the fifth, as the Southwest loaded the bases. Boyle followed with a strikeout for the second out of the inning before being replaced by Austin Smith. The Southwest plated a run on a walk to make it 6-1 before Moten hit an RBI-single to trim the deficit to four. Giametta then entered the game and picked up a strikeout to escape further trouble.
The South added a run in the top of the sixth to take a 7-2 lead. Grant Sperandio shut the door on the win, stranding a pair of runners to secure the win.
The Southwest Stars and South Stars will meet in the gold medal game at Coleman Field at 11:15 AM ET. The Southeast Stars and Southwest Stripes will battle for bronze at 8:15 AM ET.
Midwest Stripes and South Stripes Advance to 12U NTIS Champions Cup Gold Medal Game
CARY, N.C. – The Midwest Stripes and South Stripes clinched spots in the 2021 12U National Team Identification Series (NTIS) Champions Cup gold medal game with wins on Saturday at Thomas Brooks Park in Cary, North Carolina.
The Midwest Stripes were the first to earn a spot in Sunday’s championship game, winning 12-2 over the Northwest Stripes.
It was the Stripes from the Midwest that got on the board to start the game in the top of the first after a one-out triple put a runner on third that came in to score on an RBI groundout. They would add one more run in the inning to take a 2-0 lead into the bottom half.
The Northwest got on the board in the third, sending a two-out single into center to score a run and cut the Midwest lead in half, 2-1. The Midwest got it right back in the next half inning, though, hitting back-to-back lead off doubles to make it 3-1 in the top of the fourth. The team used the consecutive extra base hits as a spark, going up 8-1 before the inning was over.
The Northwest got one back in the fifth to make it 8-2 but couldn’t cut into the deficit anymore. Staying hot at the plate, the Midwest was able to add four more runs to win 12-2, improving to 3-0 on the week and advancing to Sunday’s championship game.
“We were really successful at the plate today and are going to try and keep the same thing going tomorrow,” said Lou Simios, coach of the Midwest Stripes. “Just keep throwing strikes and squaring the ball up and we should have success.”
In the second semifinal game of the day, the South Stripes came out on top over the Northwest Stars, 3-2, in walk-off fashion.
Similar to the Midwest Stripes, the South Stripes wasted no time getting on the board, scoring during their first at bats of the game to take an early 1-0 lead. The Northwest Stars tied it right back up in their half of the inning, making it 1-1 through an inning and a half.
After both teams went down quietly in the third, the Northwest Stars took the lead 2-1 with a play at the plate in the fourth. Keeping it a back-and-forth game, the South Stripes brought the tying run across in the bottom half of the inning.
With both team’s pitchers locked in, the game went into the seventh still tied 2-2. After holding the Northwest scoreless in the top half of the inning, the South Stripes got the leadoff runner on base in the bottom half of the inning. After playing some small ball and bunting the leadoff runner over to second, the team was able to eventually load the bases. With one out in the inning, Levi Abrego then sent the game-winning RBI up the middle of the infield to score Cole Ryherd and win the game 3-2 for the South Stripes.
“I just knew I had to run as hard as I could to score,” Ryherd said. “The only thing on my mind was making sure I crossed home.”
The Midwest Stripes and South Stripes will meet at 11:15 a.m. EDT tomorrow on Field 5 at Thomas Brooks Park in Cary, North Carolina, for the 12U NTIS Championship Cup gold medal.
Players Soak Up Experience at 13U NTIS
CARY, N.C. – Many baseball stars, both past and present, have taken the fields at the USA Baseball National Training Complex over the years. Bryce Harper, Dansby Swanson, and Mike Trout are just three of the countless USA Baseball alumni who have stepped foot on the diamonds in Cary, North Carolina.
This week at the 2021 National Team Identification Series (NTIS) Champions Cup, 13U players from across the country are looking to become the next big stars added to the list of those that have played both at the complex and for Team USA.
And when they take the fields at the National Training Complex, the history and the players who came before them are certainly on their minds.
“Obviously, a bunch of great players have played on these fields,” said Diego Delventhal of the 13U Northwest Stars. “It’s just really cool to know that when I step on these fields, a bunch of players who are in the MLB now have played here too. It’s really cool to know that I’m on that path.”
Knowing that the players who came before them in Cary, North Carolina, have gone on to successful MLB careers adds a special element to the weekend at the NTIS. While the list of the players who have played on the fields is strong in itself, there is also an impressive core of past NTIS participants that have played in the event and then went on to have successful baseball careers, including stints with USA Baseball national teams.
Among those alumni are seven-time Team USA alum Albert Almora, as well as Collegiate National Team alums Alex Bregman, Rio Ruiz, and Blake Snell. Hearing those names and knowing that they could be the next players to join that list energizes this year’s NTIS athletes, and proves to them that anything is possible if they continue to work hard.
“To have the opportunity to play at the NTIS feels awesome,” said 13U Northwest Stars player Josiah Morris. “These are probably the nicest fields I’ve ever been to. I’m just really excited to take the field with my team.”
While the list of athletes who have played on these fields before them is one exciting part of the NTIS, the atmosphere at the complex itself is also something that the players are soaking in.
The complex features four fields, all maintained at Major League Baseball standards. The grounds are some of the finest in the country, and the players are not taking it for granted.
“This complex is the coolest thing I’ve ever seen in my life,” said Finnian O’Loughlin, who is representing the Northeast in the 13U tournament. “I’m really excited to be here.”
O’Loughlin recently had a conversation with a friend who had played at the complex in the past. The insight he got has helped him focus on having fun and enjoying the atmosphere, while trying not to get too caught up in it all.
“He gave me some really good advice,” O’Loughlin said. “He just told me to have fun and to not worry about anything. He said to think of it as a normal tournament, and just push away everything else and focus on what you have to do.”
That’s the goal for all of the players at the NTIS this week. While the list of players to come before them might be exciting to think about, the players are focused on standing out in front of the USA Baseball Task Force here and now and earning a spot in future USA Baseball programming.
And if they do, maybe one day their names will be listed with Harper and Trout’s on the list of USA Baseball and MLB greats that have played at the home of Team USA.