It was only fitting for a trying week filled with weather delays and long days just to get games completed to be capped off with a marathon game. Hunter Barco’s single through the left side scored Spencer Keefe from second as the East Cobb Astros 16u outlasted IBAHS 5-4 in 11 innings to take the 16u PG Super25 National Championship.
16u Perfect Game Super25 Champions – 16U Astros
Tournament MVP Josiah Miller was intentionally walked with two outs ahead of Barco, the highest rated prospect of the entire tournament at 11th in the 2019 class. With IBAHS’s shortstop shading Barco up the middle, the Astros’ cleanup man took the pitch right at the normal depth a shortstop would be and Keefe easily raced home ahead of the throw to spark a wild celebration.
“I had seen how they were defending me and I was trying to go backside and shoot it right through there,” Barco said. “I did what I was trying to do, nothing too big there with Spencer at second because I knew he would score. Both sides played really hard, and it was a great game to be a part of.”
In the early stages, IBAHS jumped on Astros starter Caleb Reis for three first inning runs thanks to aggressive baserunning.
With the bases loaded, Edwin Santana (2018, Trujillo Alto, Puerto Rico) bounced a single to right field, bringing in the lead runner, however, as the throw came into the cutoff man it skittered away allowing the runner at second to race all the way home. Santana was hung up between first and second and the trail runner from first broke for the plate and the throw was late to bring in three runs on a single play.
IBAHS added to their lead in the second as Luis Castro (2019, Trujillo Alto, Puerto Rico) drew a one-out walk, took second on a ball in the dirt, and as he was stealing third an errant throw into left field allowed him to score, putting the Astros behind 4-0.
East Cobb would get on the board in the bottom half as Brennan Milone (2019, Woodstock, Ga.) hammered a leadoff double above the Green Monster and he scored on an RBI single to right from Ryan Murphy (2019, Alpharetta, Ga.).
Miller helped forge another run across in the third as he banged an opposite field double off the Green Monster, moved to third on a wild pitch and came home on a Barco sacrifice fly to center to make it 4-2.
The Astros continued to chip away in the fourth as Gavin Lee (2019, McDonough, Ga.) knocked a pinch-hit double to left, bringing in Derius Hulbert (2018, Lithonia, Ga.) to make it a one-run ballgame.
After Reis (2019, Marietta, Ga.) fired scoreless innings from the third inning on after a shaky start, Zachary Murray (2020, Sugar Hill, Ga.) entered from the bullpen in the sixth and continued keeping IBAHS off the scoreboard.
His teammates knotted the game up in the bottom half, as pinch-hitter Taj Bradley (2018, Stone Mountain, Ga.) dumped a shallow fly ball into center with two outs, scoring Murphy to even the contest up.
The two teams traded scoring opportunites as the game went into extra innings, with IBAHS loading the bases with two outs in the eighth, but Murray got a clutch strikeout of Joesph Matos to halt that threat.
In the 10th, the Astros had a man reach third with two outs, but Jorge Pereira (2020, Rio Grande, Puerto Rico) got Hulbert to hit a popup right back to him to keep the game going.
Finally in the 11th, a one-out bunt single from Ryan Davis (2019, Roswell, Ga.) and his stolen base forced IBAHS to walk Keefe (2019, Canton, Ga.) intentionally. Davis got hung up in between second and third as he wandered too far off and was thrown out at third. Keefe smartly moved to second on the play, setting up the free pass to Miller and giving Barco the chance to be the hero, which he capitalized on.
“Hunter’s the kind of kid that comes up big in those type of situations,” Astros head coach Kevin Baldwin said. “IBAHS played a great game, very fundamentally sound and well-coached and they play the game the right way. I’m really proud of our kids, we emptied the bench and every man got in to contribute. It really was a complete team effort.”
Miller (2019, Tallahassee, Fla.) went 4-for-5 with three doubles for the game, and finished the tournament with a .474 average (9-for-19), with seven doubles and six RBIs for the week.
“This is the third time I’ve won this event with this team, and this one may be my favorite on out them all because how hard we had to work for this one,” Baldwin added. “It was a dogfight today and we came out on top.”
Chandler Wood (2019, Dallas, Ga.) took home most valuable pitcher honors for the Astros, tossing six innings over two appearances while allowing just one hit while racking up 11 strikeouts.
2017 16u Perfect Game Super25 MVP: Josiah Miller
2017 16u Perfect Game Super25 MV Pitcher: Chandler Wood