MDJ Sports Writer
First baseman Jordan Smith homered in consecutive innings to help lift the Dublin-based Bullpin Bulls Scout Team to an 8-4 win over East Cobb Team Reebok on Monday, the fourth day of play at the World Wood Bat Association’s 17U National Championship.
After a 9-6 victory over Team California/Arizona earlier in the day, Team Reebok jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning on Monday night, but erratic pitching helped Bullpin build a comfortable six-run lead on the strength of Smith’s power surge.
“We just weren’t ready to play,” said righthanded pitcher Ben Levine, a recent Pope graduate. “Maybe we underestimated our opponent and didn’t come out ready to swing. We had a long first inning on defense, and that didn’t really help us start off coming out hot.”
Lassiter senior Kenneth Sinclair started the game for Team Reebok but struggled with his control and was pulled after a four-run first inning. After giving up Smith’s first home run of the game, a two-out solo shot that cleared the high left-field fence at Walton’s Raider Mountain in a hurry, Sinclair walked the next five batters in a row and needed 30 pitches to retire the side.
Levine, one of the starters and senior leaders on Pope’s Elite Eight team from this past season, gave up another four runs in the second inning, led off by a deep two-run homer off the bat of Smith, and scattered five hits over three innings of relief.
“I had a tough first inning, but after that, I settled down, started mixing it up more and threw a lot better,” Levine said.
His offense was not able to reel in the deficit against Bullpin starter Coty Graham, who allowed five hits in five innings of work. Second baseman John Davis of Blessed Trinity went 0-for-4 with an RBI, reaching twice on errors, and Marietta High School’s Nick High capped off a 1-for-3 day at the plate with an RBI single through the left side in the fifth inning that plated Team Reebok’s final run of the day. Centerfielder Jamari Moore, a rising senior at Kell, went 0-for-2 with a sacrifice bunt in the loss.
“We didn’t get a lot of strikes, and it’s hard to defend walks, as you know,” said centerfielder Jamari Moore, a rising senior at Kell. “We played good defense behind our pitchers, but the walks just killed us in the beginning, and it was just too much for us to bounce back from.”
The East Cobb 18U Braves are competing as East Cobb Team Reebok in this week’s 17U tournament in order to give the team’s 17 year-old players added exposure in front of the scouts and evaluators on hand at the Perfect Game event. The team is also preparing for the Triple Crown US Baseball Championships in Richmond, Va., which runs from July 19-24.
Team Reebok currently sits outside of the running for a qualifying spot in the 32-team elimination round that begins on Wednesday, with a 2-2-1 record through its first five games.