East Cobb Champs Again at 17u WWBA
The East Cobb Astros once again sit atop national travel baseball glory, after winning their heavyweight bout against Canes National in the 2021 17u WWBA National Championship, the summer’s most coveted crown.
The Astros outlasted their fellow blue blood, 6-4, on Tuesday afternoon in the tournament’s seven-inning championship battle, and in the process, claimed their third Perfect Game title of the season.
The scoring in the game was sparked in the bottom of the first inning by none other than No. 3 overall 2023 prospect Cam Collier, who sent a three-run jolt deep over the left field wall to give the Astros a 3-0 lead. Collier’s early inning homer scored stage-setters RJ Austin and Termarr Johnson and accounted for three of the lefty’s four RBI on the day.
“I was at a 3-2 count after battling for a couple pitches, and I’m like ‘If I see the ball up, I’m going to drive,’ and he threw it up, I got all barrel, and I knew it was gone,” Collier said.
The young clean-up hitter stressed how important it was for he and his team to assume an early lead, especially when taking on the Canes, the country’s second-ranked team, and a team who like the Astros, were undefeated in the tournament.
“As soon as I hit that, I knew that they would lose energy and that it would ignite us, so as soon as I did that, I knew that we had a good chance to win the game,” Collier said. “It’s so important, especially against teams like that because they can change the game with one swing of the bat.”
Astros’ starter Sullivan Brackin took the early insurance and carried that momentum throughout a perfect first three innings of the game. After striking out the first Cane of the game, the lengthy righty registered six consecutive ground ball outs and unleashed a high-80s fastball and high-70s slider, an effective pair in subduing the Canes’ bats.
Even in a high-octane situation such as the one he was placed in today, Brackin wanted to prove that he had what it takes to win a national championship with the nation’s eyes on him.
“It was crazy. I didn’t really know if I was going to pitch the first game or second game today, but then Coach told me I had the ball, and I immediately locked in,” Brackin said. “I was definitely locating my fastball, and also trying to get ahead with my slider. I had a nice little swing-and-miss pitch with my slider too, but locating with my fastball was really key in getting ahead in counts.”
Behind Brackin, the Astros’ offense continued to work. In the bottom of the second they added another run courtesy of an Austin RBI single to center field. And again in the bottom of the third, Charlie Jones delivered a similar single-bag, RBI knock to give their side a 5-0 lead.
Still, the Canes pursued the win at the plate. A second and third base jam in the fourth chased Brackin, who gave up two runs in the inning. Collier, the Astros’ early offensive hero, stepped to the mound and behind a 94 mph fastball, forced an inning-ending double play to help his team escape with a 5-2 lead.
“They’re a great team and this just showed a lot from us,” said Termarr Johnson. “We have great hitters from one to nine, so it was great to just show how much we can fight, battle, score and have great at-bats.”
The Astros scratched across another solo run after a bases loaded walk to Collier in the bottom of the frame. Throughout the game, East Cobb had consistent answers to each potential comeback the Canes manufactured.
Even a two-run blast in the top of the sixth inning from the Cane’s four-hole hitter, Eli Serrano, was enough only to bring the Canes into striking distance of the lead. With three outs to go, the Canes could not catch the eventual winners and a perfect Collier inning in the top of the seventh sealed the victory and a 12-win event for the Astros.
“It felt amazing, going from losing last year in the semifinals, to then going into this year and having all of my guys behind me,” Johnson said. “It was amazing just seeing what we could do and seeing us win.”
Johnson, who in their first game of the summer season was candid in emphasizing his team’s goal of winning this year’s national championship, was quick to credit their holistic effort in delivering on his guarantee.
“I never lie, I always tell the truth, and I’m glad that we did exactly what we wanted to do,” Johnson said.
Still more remarkable is the team’s realization that this summer’s season still holds games to win. Even minutes after lifting the WWBA trophy and posing for the champion’s picture, Johnson and his teammates bore that unwavering Astro hunger to win.
“Even now, we just want to keep winning, keep being that fiery team, keep being that same team that everyone wants to beat, and to live up to our hype,” Johnson said.
East Cobb’s next games this year are scheduled for the BCS National Championship later this month in Fort Myers, Fla. But for now, the WWBA National Championship and all of its accolades will have to suffice.