Prospects Are Nationals Champion!
Elizabethtown, KY – Last week, the Long Island Prospects 14U team traveled over 800 miles to participate in the Athletx Youth Nationals tournament at Elizabethtown, Kentucky. With 92 teams from 20 states and Canada in attendance, the Nationals provided a week-long event comprising four days of pool play and two days of single-elimination play-offs.
When preliminary round match-ups with the Prospects were being discussed locally, some self-proclaimed tournament prognosticators were already offering opinions. “They won’t be any good,” the naysayers surmised, “they’re just a New York team.” Others may even have agreed. Until play began.
The ’Spects ran the table in pool play dispatching 2 teams from Texas as well as representatives from Illinois, Michigan and Florida.
As one of only two undefeated teams entering the play-offs, the Prospects’ 5-0 record against the greater strength-of-schedule garnered the #1 seed.
Long Island continued its undefeated run eliminating teams from Texas, Kentucky, and Georgia to set up Thursday night’s championship finale with the Panthers of Macomb Michigan. The game stood up to its billing of pitting the best of the 14U division.
After both teams put men on base but were held scoreless through the first two innings, the Prospects starting pitcher Chris Wasson yielded a lead-off walk in the top of the third. A single through the hole by the Panther’s Brian Naidus put two on with no outs but Wasson worked out of the jam getting the next three batters. In the bottom half, a walk, a hit and an error loaded the bases for Long Island. After falling behind 0-2, Jack Delaney worked a two-out base-on-balls to score Matt Conry for the game’s first run. After a scoreless fourth inning, the Panthers got it even in the top of the fifth when Cade Lawitzke doubled to score Ryan Lux. But the Prospects answered right back in their half. Long Island catcher Brian Donnelly got into a 2-2 fastball burning the center fielder and slid safely into third base with a one-out triple. Alec Acri followed with a line drive single to score Donnelly and retake the lead for the Prospects. Macomb looked ready to respond when Evan Finegan led off the sixth inning with a clean base hit up the middle. But Wasson induced a pop up to shortstop, and started a crisp, inning-ending 1-6-3 double play. With one out in the Panther’s seventh, still trailing by one, again it was Lawitzke, this time taking one to the base of the wall in the left field corner for a triple. Composed and in full battle mode, Wasson then struck out Naidus with his fifth and biggest ‘K’ of the game, and the second out of the inning. With the tying run still 90 feet from home and a 1-1 count on the Panthers three-hitter Garret Navarra, Wasson jammed him with a fastball. Navarra fought it off to produce a hump-back line drive that appeared by all accounts to be destined for the grass in shallow left field. But with a quick first step, racing back over his shoulder, and launching into a desperate, lay-out dive into left field, shortstop Tyler Manger made an incredible game-ending catch to seal the victory for the Prospects.
The Prospects 2-1 win in the final completed a perfect 9-and-oh run to the Nationals Champion banner.
By the end of the week folks were overheard saying, “That New York team can play.”
Back row: Coach Bob Delaney, Chris Behan, Tyler Manger, Brian Donnelly, Chris Wasson, Alex Rodriguez,
Nick Valeriano, Coach Mike Conry, Coach Ray Valeriano, Coach Sam Acri
Front row: Matt Conry, Jack Delaney, Alec Acri, Billy McAdam, Eric Solomon
Tyler Manger is headed to the bottom of the dogpile
after making an incredible game-ending catch
at the Athletx Youth Nationals 14U Championship.