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18u Astros Win WWBA National Championship

18U WWBA
The battle of the East Cobbs concluded with the Astros defeating the Yankees 2-0 to take the championship game of the 18u WWBA National Championship. In a well-played game on both sides, it was pitching and some late game heroics that proved to be enough for the Astros to win.

Joe Lancellotti, the No. 1 overall player in the state of Pennsylvania for the class of 2017 and a North Carolina commit, started on the mound for the Astros and from pitch one it was clear he was in control. He was dominating with his fastball, which sat at 89-91 mph, and was able to put hitters away on two-strike counts with his sharp-tilting slider. Lancellotti struck out the side in the top of the first and placed an emphasis on limiting the damage that the opposing offense could cause.

“My idea going into the game was to minimize and not let anything get out of hand,” said Lancellotti. “I didn’t want them to cross home plate and I have so much confidence in my offense that I knew all we had to do to win was to score a run. The way we were swinging our bats I knew we were going to score, especially the second and third time through the lineup. We started getting runners on and executing so I just wanted to minimize and give my offense a chance.”

Garrett Gooden, the No. 5 righthanded pitcher in the state of Georgia for the class of 2016 and a Georgia Tech commit, opposed Lancellotti on the mound for the Yankees. He also took advantage of his power fastball, sitting 89-91 mph, and touched as high as 92, to get ahead in counts and use a put-away slider to end at-bats.

The Astros threatened to take the lead in the bottom of the first after a fielding error and a walk to get runners on first and second with no outs. After a groundout to move the runners over, Gooden responded by striking out the next two batters to preserve the tie.

Pitching would headline the majority of the game as no team had a runner reach second base again until the top of the fourth inning. The Yankees had two runners aboard with two outs but could not get a hit to drive them in. This would become a theme for both offenses.

After two more uneventful offensive innings, the Yankees would threaten again in the bottom of the sixth innings. With two away, Tucker Maxwell, the No. 7 outfielder in the state of Georgia for the class of 2016 and a Georgia commit, tripled into the right-center gap to put the tiebreaking run on third base. That run would not score as the next batter grounded out to end the threat.

The scoreless tie was in jeopardy as the bottom of the sixth began. Judson Ward, the No. 5 outfielder in the state of Alabama for the class of 2017 and an Auburn commit, singled with one out to try to start a rally. Sam Praytor, the No. 2 catcher in the state of Alabama for the class of 2017 and an Alabama commit, followed with a moonshot ground-rule double just shy of a home run to put runners on second and third with one out. Following a strikeout, Lancellotti came up with two outs and a chance to plate the game-winning run. With two strikes, Lancellotti pulled a curveball into left field to score Ward and take the lead.

“Being a two-way guy, I was pitching well,” said Lancellotti. “But I had to look at the situation from a hitter’s standpoint. I had two strikes on me so I was taking defensive hacks, trying to keep the ball in play and I ended up getting a curveball I was able to single into left. After Sam (Praytor) got his double I didn’t want to let the team down.”

Mackenzie Hicks, the No. 7 second baseman in the state of Alabama for the class of 2017, singled to plate another run to increase the lead to 2-0. Lancellotti would return to the mound looking to complete the shutout in the top of the seventh.

Lancellotti would come just shy of completing the game as he finished with 6 2/3 innings pitched. The bullpen came through to get the last out of the game and the Astros finished the tournament as champions.

The MVP of the tournament was Sam Praytor of the Astros. Praytor hit .286 during the tournament but also hit a whopping five home runs and added 12 RBI and 11 runs scored. Joe Lancelotti was named the MV-Pitcher for the Astros. Including his performance in the championship game, Lancelotti finished with a 1-0 record and struck out 17 batters in 11 2/3 innings pitched.

The Yankees reached the championship game after defeating Chi Town Cream 5-1. Nicholas Dye, the No. 14 lefthanded pitcher in the state of Georgia for the class of 2016, had a strong performance on the mound as he limited the Cream offense to only one run through six innings. Griffin Jolliff, the No. 14 righthanded pitcher in the state of Georgia for the class of 2016 and a Georgia Tech commit, added a two-run home run to help his team reach the championship game.

The Astros defeated the Game On West Yankees 3-0 in the semifinals on Thursday. The Astros took advantage of sloppy defense to put three runs up on only four hits. Lance Johnson, the No. 8 righthanded pitcher in the state of Alabama for the class of 2016 and a Troy commit, dominated on the mound and tossed a complete game, two-hit shutout and stifled the Yankees all game.

The summer is still young and the East Cobb Astros are vigilant enough not to get caught up in the moment. Following the celebration, they will regroup and take this tournament victory and parlay it into playing well in future tournament. The one constant of their game, however, is that they’re confident and they’re going to be tough to beat.

18u WWBA National Championship runner-up: East Cobb Yankees

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18u WWBA National Championship MVP: Sam Praytor

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18u WWBA National Championship MVP: Joe Lancelotti

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Source: Perfect Game