16u Nationals end the summer season as Great Lakes Super Select champions

Crestwood, IL-  Top Tier 16u Nationals knew that they had one last chance to become tournament champions before their summer season came to a close last weekend. Playing at Standard Bank Stadium, the 16u Nationals had a perfect opportunity. This past weekend, Top Tier dominated on all sides of the ball; pitching, hitting, and defense. The 16u Nationals ran through the competition in the Great Lakes Super Select tournament, going a perfect 5-0 including a mercy rule victory against the White Sox Ace in the championship round.

“It feels good to end the season the way we did,” said 16u National, Tommy Shaw. “Especially since it’s been a tough season, so its really good that we ended things on top as champions.”

In Game 1, Top Tier was able to outlast the 15u White Sox Ace despite allowing a six-run inning in the third. From the start of the game, the 16u Nationals got their bats going as they managed to get a 3-0 lead in the first inning. Even with the third inning blunder, Top Tier never backed down. They never looked back after their first inning lead, winning Game 1 against the 15u White Sox Ace, 13-6 on Friday.

“It was one of our best games all year, personally speaking,” said starting pitcher Alex James. “I pitched well, and we played defense really good, we gave up no errors and hit the ball hard. Overall it was a great team victory.” 

Alex James took the win for the 16u Nationals. He allowed one hit and zero runs over two innings, striking out three and walking one. Patrick Quirk and Tyson Morris also entered the game out of the bullpen to help secure the victory pitching in relief action.

Top Tier carried their early momentum to the second inning as they notched in five more runs. The offensive onslaught was led by Shaw, Kyle Blum, and Sean McDevitt, who all sent runners across the plate with RBI’s in the inning. 

After Top Tier took an early 8-0 lead after the first two innings, coach Dobrinich cleared the bench. He got everyone involved in the team’s first win of the tournament, especially Michael Pawyza. The corner infielder came off the bench to smack two extra base-hits including a two-run homerun to center field. “I was just looking for fastballs, I know I came off the bench,” said Pawyza. “So I didn’t get too many warmups. I was just sitting on fastballs, and he gave me one I could drive.”

Pawyza was just one of many Top Tier Nationals to get a hit in the game as the 16u Nationals collected a total of 14 in the game. Billy Le Petre, Shaw, McDevitt, Pawyza, and Quirk all had multiple hits for Top Tier. Shaw also led the team with three stolen bases as he ran wild on the base paths. Overall, it was one of the 16u Nationals cleanest games of the year, as they did not commit a single error on defense.

Top Tier continued its offensive onslaught in Game 2 against the Sports Academy Sluggers this past Saturday. The 16u Nationals had no trouble on offense, winning big over the Sluggers, 13-1 in just four innings of play.

Just like Game 1, Top Tier was able to get ahead early in the first inning, knocking in three runs on a two-out bases clearing double from Le Petre. It was just three of the 12 total runs Top Tier was able to drive in with two outs throughout the game.

Next, in the third, things got even more out of hand after the 16u Nationals put up another five runs after some wild pitches by the Slugger’s pitching staff as well as Kyle Blum’s inside-the-park homerun. “I had two strikes on me and just wanted to put the ball in play,” said Blum. “The pitcher gave me an outside pitch and I just waited on it a little longer and was able to tap it out their deep into the gap.”

Although, you could say this game was more about the opposing team’s pitching staff rather than Top Tier’s offense. Slugger’s pitching rotation gave up more walks then hits, giving up 10 free bases compared to just six hits. Jason Reis and Blum each managed to lead the 16u Nationals totaling multiple hits on the day.

Again, it was another solid performance by the defense as they allowed no errors while giving up just one earned run. Le Petre threw a four inning complete game, giving up three hits and striking out five in Top Tier’s blowout victory. “I was just hitting all my spots, said Le Petre. “I didn’t get a consistent call all the time but I was just trying to get strikes fast while being ahead, working 0-1 and 0-2 counts.”

Closing out the day on Saturday, Top Tier cruised to it’s third victory of the tournament, easily defeating the Northern Knights, 12-1. For the third-straight game, the 16u Nationals grabbed a first inning lead after an error by the Knights infield.

Top Tier then took a 7-0 lead after RBI’s by Colin Summerhill, Reis, and McDevitt in the second inning. Meanwhile 16u Nationals starting pitcher, Will Dietz cruised in his start on the mound giving up zero runs on two hits over two innings.

Summerhill led the 16u Nationals on offense, going 2-3 including a RBI triple in the fifth inning. He also tied with McDevitt with two RBI’s to lead Top Tier in runs driven in. “I’ve been struggling as of late,” said, Summerhill. “I just went up their and didn’t think too hard and tried to put a good swing on the ball.” 

Concluding this game Top Tier secured the No.1 seed in their pool after a perfect 3-0 start. Furthermore, the 16u Nationals managed to finish pool play with the highest run differential after scoring an impressive 38 runs scored in just three games total. “It feels good to secure the No. 1 seed,” said Summerhill. “We haven’t really won a lot this season so it feels really good to win a couple games by a lot, especially with the way our offense has been playing.”

Now that pool play was over, Top Tier looked to continue its late season magic in the semi final round of their last tournament of the summer. Thanks to the 16u Nationals offense, which was on fire all weekend, Top Tier was able to continue their post season run as they scored eight runs in the third inning to lead themselves past the Lake County Stars 12-3 on Sunday.

16u Nationals big bats were led by Blum, Le Petre, McDevitt, Reis, Mawyza, and Dietz who all sent runners across the plate with RBI’s in the third inning. Although, before the huge third inning, Lake County Stars still managed to tie the game at two a piece when their head coach called for their player to steal home, to which he successfully did. 

Even so, Top Tier 16u Nationals pulled away for good with eight runs in the third inning.  In the third, Blum singled on the first pitch of the at bat, scoring one run, Le Pretre singled on the first pitch of the at bat, scoring one run, McDevitt singled on the first pitch of the at bat, scoring two runs, Reis drew a walk, scoring one run, Pawyza singled on a 0-1 count, scoring two runs, and Dietz singled on a 2-1 count, scoring one run.

Additionally, right-handed pitcher, Tommy Shaw led the way for Top Tier on the mound. He allowed just five hits and three runs over five innings, striking out eight and walking one. “I thought I pitched pretty well,” said Shaw. “I tried to pound the zone a lot and get ahead. I let my fielders work and they really came through for me today.”

Yet again, the 16u Nationals managed to record double-digits hits in a game on the weekend. Blum led the way with three hits in three at-bats, meanwhile the team tallied 12 hits total.

Running through the tournament with ease, Top Tier was set to face the 16u Chicago White Sox Ace for the championship. Except, even though it was the championship game, it didn’t have championship feel, as the 16u Nationals easily dispatched the White Sox Ace, 9-1 on Sunday. 

Top Tier kept their first inning heroics alive as they got on the board when McDevitt doubled on the first pitch of his at-bat, scoring two runs. White Sox Ace then followed up with a run of their own after a RBI groundout in the bottom of the first inning.

Down 3-1 after the first was as close as the White Sox Ace got as Top Tier went on to put up three more runs in the fourth inning. Tommy Shaw and Kyle Blum each had RBI’s in the frame, giving the 16u Nationals an 8-1 lead after four. 

Alex James was the winning pitcher for Top Tier. He got his second win of the tournament after surrendering one run on one hit over four innings while striking out four. “It feels amazing to end the season the way we did,” said James. “Especially the way we did it by slaughtering four of the five teams we played.”

No doubt this was exactly how Top Tier wanted to draw it up as their summer season came to a close. The 16u Nationals finished the game tallying 11 hits on the day with Blum and Shaw each collecting multiple. Not to mention, Le Petre also played stellar defense in the championship game, making back-to-back diving catches in center field during the fifth inning. 

Overall, it was a tournament the 16u Top Tier Nationals will never forget, dominating the competition one game at a time to become Great Lakes Super Select tournament champions. “It feels really good to end the season on a championship,” said Dietz. “It was long over due but I’m thankful we were able to come out on top.”

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