The 15U South Troy Dodgers secured their third top three national finish in the past three years with an appearance in the 2014 Ken Griffey, Jr. World Series Championship Game.
SURPRISE, AZ-Making their way through a thrilling 11-game gauntlet that included a 15-inning victory over the North Texas Longhorns in an epic 3 hour and 20 minute National Semi-Final battle, the 15U South Troy Dodgers staked claim to a National 2nd place finish at the AABC Ken Griffey, Jr. World Series. In a national tournament that was packed with powerhouse programs from the south and west, South Troy represented the only World Series qualifier east of the Mississippi. The Dodgers successfully took on all comers, but fell 11-9 to Frozen Ropes-Dallas in a hard fought Championship Game.
From the opening of pool play, it was obvious that the Dodgers would face continuous tests. South Troy finished pool play at 3-1 in POOL A which proved to undoubtedly be the strongest pool in the event as four teams from POOL A progressed to the SUPER SIX (the only team from POOL A not making the SUPER SIX was the pool champion, ASBA-AZ) and three teams from POOL A emerged into the FINAL FOUR.
This group of South Troy Dodgers has already notched accomplishments at the national level having won a AABC National Championship in 2012 at the Nolan Ryan World Series (13U) in Battle Creek, MI and finishing 3rd in 2013 at the Sandy Koufax (14U) World Series in Bartlesville, OK in addition to this year’s National Runner-Up finish in Arizona. “This group showed a lot of guts” said 15U South Troy Head Coach and legendary Dodger chief George Rogers, “This was a great team effort. Every kid contributed at one time or another and we just kept rising to the occasion. For this group to win a World Series at 13 was a great accomplishment, but given the quality of competition that we faced day in and day out in Surprise, this year might be even more impressive.”
Continue to read below for a game by game breakdown of South Troy’s road to the Ken Griffey, Jr. World Series Final
2014 15U SOUTH TROY DODGERS AABC KEN GRIFFEY, JR WORLD SERIES FINALISTS
NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP-JULY 27, 2014-1:00 PM-SURPRISE, AZ-Frozen Ropes Dallas-11 South Troy Dodgers-9: Having just completed a 3 hour and 20 minute marathon semi-final game, those prescribing to conventional wisdom would have predicted that fatigue would set in at some point and that South Troy would go out quietly in the World Series Championship Game with only an hour to recover in between contests……..However, conventional wisdom was WRONG, and the Dodgers battled in true South Troy fashion in what turned out to be a toe-to-toe slugfest with their much-respected Texas opponents. The first round was a draw with Frozen Ropes pushing two runs across in the top of the 1st, but with the Dodgers counter-punching when a Chris Hamilton double followed by singles from Cameron Collett, Aaron Delano, and Matt Brown, and a sac fly from Sal Pezzolla plated two South Troy runs in the bottom of the 1st to knot the game at one run apiece. Frozen Ropes won the 2nd round as they plated three runs to take a 5-2 lead. The 3rd round was a draw with neither team drawing blood. Frozen Ropes threw three more hay-makers in the 4th to take a commanding 8-2 lead, but the Dodgers weren’t done yet. A walk to Jared Haughtaling in the bottom of the 4th followed by a ground out and a single, put Haughtaling at third base. Drew Fureno claimed the RBI with a ground out to the right side and the Dodger deficit was cut to 8-3. After Frozen Ropes chipped one across in the visitor’s half of the 5th, South Troy found punching power in the home half of the inning when Sam Kmack led off with a walk and promptly scored two pitches later when Chris Hamilton blasted a 350 foot, line-drive triple off of the rightfield wall. Hamilton later scored on a sac fly from Aaron Delano to cut the lead to 9-5. In the top of the 6th, Frozen Ropes scored twice with two-outs to once again create some space and push the lead to 11-5. However, the Dodgers came out of the corner swinging in the home half of the 6th. Matt Brown started things with a lead-off single, Drew Fureno reached on a walk, and Brooks Knapek singled to score Brown. Sam Kmack followed with a walk, and Chris Hamilton singled to drive in both Knapek and Kmack. The South Troy four-run 6th sent Frozen Ropes wobbling back to the corner,but still clinging to a two run lead at 11-9. Unfortunately, that’s where the scoring would end. Although the late rounds belonged to South Troy, it wasn’t enough to overcome the consistency of Frozen Ropes as the State of Texas claimed it’s 5th straight AABC Ken Griffey, Jr. World Series Championship. On the mound for the Dodgers, Mike Jeffers went the first 3 1/3 allowing eight runs on four hits and three walks. Jared Haughtaling threw 1 2/3 innings allowing one run on four hits while striking out one and walking one. Johnny Iris threw a strong final two innings for South Troy allowing two runs on two hits and one walk.
NATIONAL SEMI-FINAL-JULY 27, 2014-8:00 AM-SURPRISE, AZ-South Troy Dodgers-5 North Texas Longhorns-2 (15 innings): South Troy Dodger scorekeeper Jim Hamilton nearly ran out of ink and room in the book to score this 15-inning epic that featured the re-match of two teams that had to go extra innings to decide their last pool play game. Earlier in the tournament, the Dodgers gave away a 7-0 lead to North Texas in suffering their only pool play loss 8-7 in eight innings. That game may have been a pre-cursor to a baseball battle between two evenly matched teams, but the path to the end result would be very different. The first game was a slug-fest featuring multiple big innings. In this match-up, South Troy managed only nine hits through the marathon and Zach Kerr was the only Dodger to manage more than one hit with three singles on the day. However, timely defensive plays and a two-out rally won the day for South Troy. The game was scoreless entering the 4th inning. In the top of the 4th, Mike Jeffers led off the inning with a walk and eventually came around to score with the infield back on a Sal Pezzolla ground ball to short. The Longhorns answered in the bottom half of the inning to tie the game at one run apiece. Kerr led off the Dodger 5th with a single and scored on a Chris Hamilton double and a throwing error by North Texas. South Troy carried the one-run lead into the bottom of the 7th. A lead-off single and a sacrifice bunt put a Longhorn runner on second base with one out. A strike-out followed by a 2-2 count on the North Texas clean-up hitter had South Troy within a strike of moving into the Championship Game, but a timely North Texas base hit to leftfield plated the tying run and sent the teams into extra innings once again. After the Dodgers went quietly in the top of the 8th, North Texas started what would be a continuing trend over their next eight turns in the box. The Longhorns threatened on countless occasions during the extra sessions only to be knocked down by Dodger defense and pitching. No singular defensive play was more highlight worthy than Matt Brown’s diving-out-of-nowhere-game-saving grab in left field with a Longhorn runner on second base and two outs in the bottom of the 8th. The teams traded jabs into the 15th when Cory McArthur (the third Dodger player to bat in the clean-up spot during the game) banged a two-out, two-strike hit to left. The two-out single seemed fairly innocuous at the time….but not in this game. Matt Brown followed by beating out a routine grounder to shortstop in order to claim an infield hit. Both runners moved up into scoring position on a wild pitch and Dodger back-stop Drew Fureno walked to load the bases. After a mound visit, Sal Pezzolla stepped into the batter’s box carrying the burden of an 0-6 day thus far, but in this game, only one swing mattered……..and Pezzolla delivered it by crushing a double into the left field corner to clear the bases and give the Dodgers a 5-2 lead that would stick as the final margin of victory. On the hill, Carter Knapek started the game and pitched brilliantly through five innings allowing just one run on four hits and one walk. Ryan Lambert carried the next four innings allowing only one run on six hits and one walk while striking out two,….but Jerry Burke did the heavy mound lifting tossing scoreless baseball from the 10th through the 15th innings. In notching the win, Burke perservered through every North Texas threat as his masterful composure and control stopped the Longhorns every attempt to gore him. South Troy will now face Frozen Ropes Dallas in the 2014 Ken Griffey, Jr. World Series Championship.
JULY 26, 2014-4:00 PM-SURPRISE, AZ-South Troy Dodgers-4 Tucson Baseball Academy (AZ)-3: South Troy stormed out of the gates in this Final Four game. After a 1-2-3 top of the 1st, the Dodgers posted a 4-spot in the bottom half of the stanza. After a lead-off walk, Aaron Delano singled to score Chris Hamilton (walk, single, triple). Mike Jeffers walked and Delano scored on a Matt Brown fielder’s choice. Ryan Lambert followed with a single and Brooks Knapek drove a two-out double to drive in both Brown and Lambert and push the Dodger margin to 4-0. The Dodger bats were fairly quiet the rest of the way, but the South Troy pitching and defense was enough to hold Tucson down and claim the 4-3 victory. On the mound, Chris Hamilton went 3 1/3 innings allowing three runs on seven hits while striking out one and walking two. South Troy closer Cory McArthur went into long duty mode tossing a scoreless final 3 2/3 allowing only one hit while striking out two, walking none, and facing only one over the minimum number of Tucson hitters.
JULY 26, 2014-8:00 AM-SURPRISE, AZ-South Troy Dodgers-6 Trombley Baseball (CA)-4: In one of their most impressive wins of the tournament, South Troy topped Los Angeles-based national powerhouse Trombley Baseball in a heavyweight elimination game. The Dodgers opened quickly when back to back singles in the top of the 1st from Chris Hamilton and Cam Collett put a runner in scoring position for clean-up hitter Mike Jeffers who promptly blasted a double to right-center clearing the bases and giving South Troy an early 2-0 lead. A Matt Brown (two singles) RBI single plated Jeffers and a Trombley fielding miscue allowed Brown to score and give the Dodgers a commanding 4-0 1st inning lead. In the bottom of the 2nd, timely hitting from Trombley cut the South Troy lead to 4-3. In the bottom of the 3rd, a Trombley lead-off double followed by a South Troy fielding miscue knotted the game at 4-4. The game stayed even until the bottom of the 6th when South Troy took the lead in dramatic fashion. Cameron Collett flared his third single of the game with one out in the Dodger half of the inning. The hard-throwing Trombley hurler delivered a key strike-out to bring Jeffers back to the plate with two outs in the tie game with Collett standing on first base. After working his way to a 2-0 count, “Dirty Mike” BOOMED a towering home run just beyond the left field foul pole causing an eruption in the South Troy dugout. The timely bomb was the second of the tournament for the South Troy power-hitting clean up man who also led the entire event in slugging percentage. After going a very strong five innings on the hill allowing four runs on six hits and two walks while striking out five Trombley batters, Dodger lefty Brooks Knapek handed the ball over to Ryan Lambert. Lambert picked up right where Knapek left off retiring six of the seven batters that he faced. Lambert was virtually unhittable strking out four, including the final two batters in the bottom of the 7th who were both retired looking at filthy sliders that broke from black to black. South Troy now faces a Final Four re-match with the Tucson Baseball Academy who the Dodgers defeated 4-3 during the pool play round of the event.
JULY 25, 2014-3:00 PM-SURPRISE, AZ-Frozen Ropes Dallas-5 South Troy Dodgers-2: In this battle of undefeated teams in the double-elimination round, South Troy struck first when Matt Brown singled to start the bottom of the 2nd. Brown stole second base and scored on Drew Fureno’s two-out RBI single. Frozen Ropes answered back loudly with four runs in the top of the 3rd. The Dodgers cut the deficit to 4-2 in the bottom of the 4th when Sal Pezzolla led off the inning with a single and Drew Fureno notched another clutch RBI base knock, but that would be as close as the Dodgers would get in dropping the 5-2 decision. On the hill, Jared Haughtaling went three innings allowing four runs on five hits and two walks. Jerry Burke went the final four innings surrendering just one run on two hits and one walk while striking out one.
JULY 25, 2014-10:00 AM-SURPRISE, AZ-South Troy secured a spot in the SUPER SIX of the Ken Griffey, Jr. World Series with an over-powering 8-0 Run-Rule victory over Columbine Elite. Carter Knapek was dominant on the mound facing only one over the minimum in his 5-inning complete game shut-out. Knapek struck-out seven Columbine hitters while allowing only one hit and no walks. The Dodger offense broke out on the second turn threw the line-up in the 4th inning when Cameron Collett singled, Aaron Delano doubled to move Collett to third, Mike Jeffers was intentionally walked to load the bases and Matt Brown doubled into the right-centerfield gap to drive in two runs. Two batters later, Brooks Knapek and Sam Kmack followed with back to back RBI singles, and Chris Hamilton blasted a triple to score both Knapek and Kmack. The game-ending run came in the bottom of the 5th when Mike Jeffers led off the inning with a single and later scored on a Sal Pezzolla chopper to third in order to allow South Troy to reach the 8-0 Run Rule threshold.
JULY 24, 2014-6:00 PM-SURPRISE, AZ-Mike Jeffers put on an offensive laser show to power South Troy past the D-Backs Academy in the Dodgers’ first Elimination Round game at the Ken Griffey, Jr. World Series. Dirty Mike was extra filthy blasting two doubles and a towering 385-foot solo home run to pace the Dodger offense en route to an 8-5 decision over their MLB-sponsored opponents. The 3rd inning proved to be the difference for South Troy as the Dodgers strung together five consecutive hits (Chris Hamilton 1B, Cam Collett 1B, Aaron Delano 2B, Mike Jeffers 2B, and Matt Brown 3B) to stack up five runs and take a commanding 6-0 lead. In addition to Jeffers’ power surge, Aaron Delano banged two doubles, Matt Brown tripled and singled, Chris Hamilton and Carter Knapek had two singles each, Drew Fureno had a base knock, and Cam Collett contributed a bunt single. On the mound, Ryan Lambert went four strong innings striking out seven and walking three while allowing four runs on four hits. Cory McArthur went the final three innings allowing one run on two hits while striking out one and walking two. The Dodgers will face a re-match with Columbine (CO) Elite in a winners bracket game tomorrow morning at 8:00 AM. South Troy defeated Columbine 4-3 in a pool play game earlier in the tournament.
JULY 24, 2014-1:00 PM-SURPRISE, AZ-South Troy suffered their first loss of the Ken Griffey, Jr. World Series when they dropped an 8-7 extra innings decision to the North Texas Longhorns. The Dodgers jumped out to a 7-0 lead over the Longhorns behind two scoreless innings on the mound from Jared Houghtaling and an explosive six-run 2nd inning. From that point, South Troy pitchers struggled with control issuing nine walks that led to North Texas knotting the game at 7-7 in the 6th inning. The Longhorns pushed a run across in the top of the 8th to take an 8-7 lead. A Sam Kmack two-out single followed by a Chris Hamilton walk and a Cameron Collett single created a bases-loaded threat for South Troy in the bottom of the 8th, but that’s where the game would end. For the South Troy offense, Collett and Matt Brown had two singles each, Hamilton and Aaron Delano had extra-base hits, and Kmack had a single to start the 8th inning threat. The Dodgers move into double-elimination Championship Round play against the D-Backs Academy at 4:00 PM today.
JULY 23, 2014-10:00 PM-SURPRISE, AZ-The 15U South Troy bats pounded out 11 hits as the Dodgers remained perfect in pool play with a 6-3 victory over the All-Star Baseball Academy (ASBA) featuring a roster of players from California and Arizona. With the game knotted at 3-3 in the 5th inning, Mike Jeffers led off the visiting half of the stanza with a blast to rightfield for a triple. A Ryan Lambert single plated Jeffers to give South Troy the lead for good. South Troy added some insurance in the 7th when a Drew Fureno two-out double scored Aaron Delano and Matt Brown resulting in the final 6-3 margin. Delano lead the Dodger offense with three hits while Chris Hamilton pounded out a double and a single. Cameron Collett and Matt Brown added singles and Sal Pezzolla bunted for a hit to round out the Dodger offense. On the mound, Carter Knapek held ASBA hitless and scoreless through the first two innings while striking out one and walking one. Zach Kerr pitched the 3rd and 4th allowing two runs on four hits while walking one and striking out one. Cory McArthur finished up for South Troy allowing one run on four hits and one walk while striking out four over the final three innings.
South Troy remains one of only two unbeaten teams in the World Series tournament heading into the final day of pool play. The Dodgers will face the North Texas Longhorns in their final pool play test at 11:00 AM on Thursday. A victory will secure a top-2 seed for the Dodgers heading into the 12-team double-elimination bracket play round of the national championship event. Even with a loss, South Troy is guaranteed at least an 8-seed heading into the elimination round.
JULY 23, 2014-SURPRISE, AZ-The 15U South Troy Dodgers notched their second consecutive pool play victory this morning and guaranteed themselves a spot in the double-elimination bracket play round at the 2014 Ken Griffey, Jr. World Series. In a back and forth game with Columbine (CO) Elite, the Dodgers scored last to secure a 4-3 victory. Columbine opened the scoring in the top half of the 1st to take a 1-0 lead. South Troy answered in the home half of the inning when a Mike Jeffers sac fly to deep center plated Chris Hamilton who had drawn a walk to start the inning. Columbine re-claimed a 2-1 lead in the 2nd, but the Dodgers responded with two runs in the 3rd when Matt Brown singled to score Aaron Delano and Mike Jeffers and give South Troy a 3-2 lead. That margin remained until Columbine knotted the game at 3-3 in the 5th inning. The decisive run came in the bottom of the 6th when Matt Brown led off the inning with a walk, stole second and third, and scored on a sac fly to left from Drew Fureno. Brown led the South Troy offense with two hits and two RBI. Delano contributed his 3rd inning single and Jeffers and Fureno each had an RBI for the Dodgers. On the mound, Jerry Burke went 4 2/3 innings allowing three runs on five hits and two walks while striking out three Columbine batters. Ryan Lambert held Columbine hitless and scoreless for the final 2 1/3 , helped in part by a tremendous, 7th inning, extra-base saving catch from Chris Hamilton in the right-centerfield gap, while walking one and striking out two.
JULY 22, 2014-7:00 PM-SURPRISE, AZ-With game time temperatures topping 112 degrees in Surprise, AZ, the 15U Dodgers grinded out a 4-3 victory over the Tucson Baseball Academy in their opening game of the Ken Griffey, Jr. World Series. South Troy took a 1-0 leading in the visitor’s half of the 1st when Aaron Delano scored. The lead was short lived as Tucson answered with two runs in the home half of the inning. Sam Kmack led off the Dodger half of the 3rd by beating out an infield single. Chris Hamilton followed with a walk, and both runners moved up 90 feet on a bunt by Cam Collett. In the next at bat, Sal Pezzolla’s hard hit ground ball was mis-handled at third base allowing both Kmack and Hamilton to score, and giving the Dodgers a 3-2 lead. Tucson tied the game in the 4th and the score remained deadlocked into the final stanza. In the South Troy half of the 7th, Kmack drew a one-out walk and moved to second on a wild pitch. Chris Hamilton promptly answered with a clutch line-drive single to center driving in Kmack with the go-ahead run. The bottom of the 7th started with a lead-off single, but that Tucson baserunner was quickly erased when he was caught stealing on a perfect throw from Dodger catcher Drew Fureno. The eventful bottom of the 7th ended without any runs crossing for Tucson and the Dodgers securing their first win of the 2014 World Series. In addition to the singles by Kmack and Hamilton, Collett and Fureno also added base knocks. On the mound, Brooks Knapek had another strong outing allowing just one earned run on three hits through five complete innings. Johnny Iris shut out Tucson in the final two innings allowing four hits and walking two.