This was one tough row to hoe. By the time the Elite Squad and the Florida Burn 2019 Platinum – two teams representing two of the top travel programs not only in Florida but in the U.S. – took the field for the championship game at the Perfect Game WWBA Underclass World Championship, they had already run the equivalent of a baseball marathon.
The playoff field at the 206-team PG national championship tournament included 64 teams, which made it necessary for teams to play three five inning games on Sunday, and a five-inning quarterfinal game and a seven-inning semifinal game on Monday just to reach the seven-inning championship game.
When the Squad and the Burn showed up at Field 2 at the Lee County Player Development Complex for that title tilt early Monday afternoon, they had already played 27 innings in roughly 30 hours and were staring down the barrel at seven more. Both were up to the challenge, but at the end of this epic journey it was the Squad that prevailed.
Gavin Casas was 3-for-3 with a double, triple and three runs scored, 2020 right-hander Jordan Carrion tossed a complete game three-hitter and the No. 42-seeded Elite Squad outlasted the No. 16 Burn 2019 Platinum, 4-1, on a hot and steamy – but rain-free – fall afternoon at the old 5-Plex.
The victory pushed the Elite Squad’s record to 8-1-0 over the course of this five-day event while the Burn 2019 Platinum lost for the first time and also finished 8-1-0. This was the story of two teams that everyone knew were worthy of duking it out for the title and they didn’t disappoint.
“Their effort was unbelievable,” Elite Squad Baseball president and underclass head coach Richie Palmer said of his players. “I’m not going to sit here and say we were the most talented team in the tournament – there are a lot of good teams here – but do I think we can play with anybody? Absolutely.”
Taylor Clamp singled twice and drove in two runs, Benjamin Rozenblum doubled and drove in a run and T.K. Knierim singled and pushed across a run as part of the Elite Squad’s 13-hit attack. It was nothing short of one of the most well-rounded — pitching, hitting, defense — attacks that can be expected during a PG National championship game.
The Burn 2019 Platinum averaged nearly six runs per game in their five playoff wins before the championship but could never figure Carrion out on this day. They scored their only run in the bottom of the second on the strength of a Charlie Vari one-out single, a walk, a wild pitch and a throwing error.