ZT National’s Two-Way Dominance Shines Through in 12-2 Win for 13U Champs NC Gold

Scoring a whopping 54 runs and conceding just seven over a dominant week in Cary, ZT National wouldn't be denied their first ever Champs NC title on Thursday.

For a few minutes in the first inning of the 13U National Team Championships title game, it looked like ZT National may finally have met its match. Stacked National, which had allowed just five runs in five games, was quickly up 2-0. And then ZT National, as it has all week in Cary, North Carolina, showed that it has an extra gear that couldn’t be touched.

ZT National saved arguably its best showing of the week for its 12-2 rout to claim the title at 13U Champs NC, showcasing a squad that simply had no weakness this week at the National Training Complex. It’s a breakthrough for ZT National itself, which saw teams earn bronze in 2023 at both 14U and 15U Champs NC but hadn’t won gold until Thursday.

The team scored the next 12 runs of the game as the team smashed its way to the title in four innings. It was a matchup that pitted two 5-0 teams against each other, but ended the same way the others had as ZT National established itself as a two-way juggernaut.

Offense? Five games with at least eight runs scored, and three in double-digits as ZT National scored a tournament-high 54 runs in six games. Defense? Just seven total runs allowed, including four games where it held the opposing team to one or fewer. In mathematical terms, a +47 run differential is a pretty good equation to come up with a gold medal at the end of the week.

“It's them just focusing on the little things. We really talked about approach and situational hitting, and we were able to do that this week. That's what made us successful,” head coach Carlos Avila said following the final game. “That's credit to them. They put in the work, worked on the right things, and we ended up on top.”

Avila’s squad had work to do after the top of the first inning against Stacked National, the only squad to match ZT National’s mark of just five runs allowed entering the title game. The team’s approach at the plate once again proved to be the key.

Loading the bases with one out, Brody Taylor tied the game with a two-RBI double before Noah Jarolimek handed ZT National the lead with a sac fly. Leading 3-2 heading into the second inning, ZT National added a fourth run on a balk as it remained disciplined.

The third inning was where the winning side pulled clear ahead of Stacked National. Loading the bases with two outs, ZT National earned a run on both another balk and a wild pitch, while Daaniyal Badar drove an RBI single into center to put his squad up 7-2.

Three RBI doubles and an RBI single earned ZT National the crown in the fourth inning. Easton O’Quinn and Tre’ Lawrence went back-to-back into left for extra bases, before Jarolimek added his second RBI of the game on a single to make it 10-2. Carter Nash delivered the final walk-off hit, another double into left that bounced over the wall and advanced the final two runners of the game.

“We just rely on each other, just keep the bats rolling and pass it to the next guy. Fortunately, I was the one who closed it off,” a grinning Nash said postgame. “As soon as I felt it off the bat,I knew it was far. It felt good.”

Of all the players now wearing a gold medal, arguably no one has embodied ZT National’s two-way dominance quite like Jarolimek. Helping pitch a combined no-hitter in the opening 11-1 win over East Coast Sox on Sunday, Jarolimek started again today and went all four innings. After allowing four hits and two runs in the first inning, he held Stacked National’s lineup to just one more hit over the other three while also leading the offensive effort.

“We knew that we were going to have to compete and fight for it. It can't just be handed to us,” Jarolimek said postgame about responding to the early deficit. Coach Avila also noted the team’s defensive fight afterwards.

“The defense was so good. I think that's a big part of why we were successful. I don't think we've made one error this week, we made the routine plays with three strikes, and if you do that, you're gonna win some ball games. We did that great and made some great plays. It’s awesome.”

After both his side’s opener on Sunday and quarterfinal win on Wednesday, Avila stressed the same message; encouraging his team to just continue playing together, the way they have. He knew what they were capable of, and after the team’s performance this week in Cary, a lot more people do as well.

“I think the biggest thing is the message that we've been sending since the beginning of the year. We've been playing together now for eight, nine months, and our main thing was, you know, let's do the little things, let's play as a team, and let's embrace our role. They've been able to do that, and it's been awesome.”

Stacked National has a lot to be proud of as well following its silver medal finish. Head coach Kyle Davis’ squad finished with both the second best offense and defense in the tournament, scoring 37 runs and allowing 17. They had allowed more than one run just once in five games leading into the championship.

Elite RBI National claimed bronze on Thursday afternoon as well with a thrilling 8-7 win over Banditos.

But right now, it is ZT National’s time at the top of 13U Champs NC. For players like Nash, it is a moment they will not soon forget.

“It feels great. It's my first gold medal.”