Top Tier 18u Caps Off Brilliant Season with Trip to the Connie Mack World Series

For the young men who continue on to play college baseball after graduating high school, those summer months represent an opportunity to take the field one final season with the friends and teammates they have grown up playing with. This held true for the Top Tier 18u team this summer, as they finished off an incredible summer season with a berth in the Connie Mack World Series.

Drew Mullarkey and Maclain Neal discussing their experience on TV! 

The first half of the summer proved to be a successful campaign for the team, with them consistently finishing in the top two in pool play and making deep runs into Sunday as they learned what they had and how to win as a team.

“The group of guys we had this summer absolutely love playing the game of baseball.” Head Coach Steve Libman said. “They don’t care about anything other than laying it on the line together and fighting through the finish for the guy next to them.” This team comradery proved to be strength of the team. “Every challenge that came our way, whether it was guys playing out of position, a limited roster, or competition that was supposedly “better” than us, excited the group. These young men were afraid of nothing.”

As the summer progressed, the team got itself ready for the Connie Mack state tournament. This tournament marked the first leg of the Connie Mack playoffs. After winning the state tournament, the 18u guys pulled off an incredible string of wins in the Connie Mack North Central regional tournament. With one loss they found themselves in the championship game against the Midwest A’s and a roster that featured 14 Division 1 commitments. The game was a tight struggle for most of the way, with Top Tier scoring 4 runs in the top of the 7th to win by 2 runs. It was a gutsy performance and relentless attitude that kept the team in it until the end.

“The guys never worried about the deficit. We had faith in ourselves and the training we received all winter from our Top Tier coaching staff. With that confidence we found a way to stay in the fight and come out on top” said Illinois State commit, Michael Sebby.

The Connie Mack league is an 18u league under the AABC -American Amateur Baseball Congress- all over the country. At the end of the summer, the Connie Mack World Series is hosted in Farmington, NM and is one of, if not the most prestigious tournament in travel baseball today. The tournament hosts 12 teams, with 9 bids coming by way of winning one of the 9 regional tournaments, winning one of the two open national qualifiers, and one team from Puerto Rico makes it. Players are treated to a week-long tournament that not only boasts elite level talent, college and pro scouts alike, and a great venue for every game, but also treats players like big leaguers. Players are paired up with a teammate and then stay with a host family for the week. The entire population of approximately 45,000 people lays out the red carpet. It begins with receiving a chartered bus ride from the airport first to Ricketts Park, the single field used for all games, and then to the civic center for team check-in festivities.

The following day there is a parade held through downtown Farmington. Players are driven on floats and hand out candy, t-shirts, hats, etc. to all the screaming fans lining the street. Later that evening, prior to the Friday night game, all teams meet on the field in front of a sold out crowd for the Connie Mack Hall of Fame inductions and opening ceremonies.

18u RHP/Infielder Kolton Rominski (committed to Hillsdale College) said, “The atmosphere is unlike anything else. To stand in front of five thousand people, and be down on the same field that guys like Griffey Jr., Eric Hosmer, Matt Harvey, and Manny Machado once stood on is surreal. It is a true honor.”

After all of the festivities were enjoyed by players and families that made the trip, it was back to work for Top Tier. Each day featured a morning workout at one of the nearby high schools, with their first game played on night 2 of the tournament. Game 1 featured Top Tier squaring off against the Connecticut Bombers. Top Tier had opportunities to grab a game 1 win, but could not capitalize with runners on base. After the dust settled, the Bombers came away with the win.

With one loss, Top Tier had its back against the wall in the double elimination tournament. In game 2, Top Tier faced off against the perennial national powerhouse Midland Redskins. The game was hard fought with Top Tier trailing by 2 heading into the 5th inning behind a strong pitching performance from Maryland commit, Mark DiLuia. In the end, the Redskins potent offense proved to be just too much as they defeated Top Tier and eliminated them from the tournament.

Despite the early exit from the Connie Mack World Series, all Top Tier players came away with a sense of accomplishment and one of the greatest baseball experiences of their lives. The team had many 2017 players on it who are looking forward to making a run to Farmington again next year.

“After getting a taste of what this tournament is like, I am as hungry as ever to get back to work this winter and gear up for another Connie Mack World Series trip next summer!” said Wake Forest commit, Bobby Seymour.

This was the second appearance that Top Tier has made in the Connie Mack World Series, with the first trip coming back in 2007. 

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