Dropping its first game of the tournament to the Midland Redskins, the MGF Marshalls have been all business since. In the three games after the defeat, MGF has surrendered only a single run, including a 5-0 victory over the Ohio Warhawks to set up a rematch with Midland in the 2019 Pathway Games Omaha championship game.
“I was really proud of the way the boys showed up,” said head coach Sam Swenson. “From the first inning on, whether it was competing with two strikes to putting balls in play to competing on the mound and executing pitches, the guys were in it from the very beginning.
“We have a long history with the Warhawks. Anytime we show up on the same field, we know it’s going to be a good fight.”
After a quiet top half of the first inning, starting pitcher Bryce Robison went to work for MGF. Robison didn’t have everything going at first but still managed to retire the initial 10 batters he faced.
“I had a hard time finding my curveball early,” explained Robison. “Later in the game, I was able to find a secondary pitch and that really helped me be able to get ahead and get early outs with ground balls.”
With both pitchers looking steady on the mound, the game seemed destined for a seven-inning pitcher’s duel.
In stepped Miguel Ortiz.
Leading off the second inning, Ortiz launched a home run to left field, giving the Marshalls a much-needed early advantage.
“It was a curveball down and in,” Ortiz said. “First at-bat, I thought he would be throwing me fastballs but right away he threw me two curveballs right down the middle.
“I was confused for a second but I fouled off the next curveball and I knew what he was coming with after. It was a bit low but I still got to it.”
In two days of Pathway baseball at Werner Park, Ortiz’s solo shot stands as the only home run.
“For us to jump out there with a bomb kind of helped,” Swenson said. “It put pressure on them to make it up. It’s usually how it goes. Whoever can score first, usually has a good chance.”
An inning later, the Marshall’s continued to put its foot on the gas as TJ Clarkson tallied a two-RBI double to put MGF up 3-0.
The Warhawks looked almost certain to score in the bottom of the third inning with runners on first and third with one out. MGF flexed its defensive prowess, though, calling a brilliant pick play to end the threat and walk out of the inning unscathed.
“I knew they were going to run,” Swenson said. “We tried to set them up because Robison has a really good pick. The defense did exactly as they had been taught.
“That play right there changed the game. Any hope that they had of trying to battle back into the game got shut down right there.”
The Marshalls tacked on two more runs in the fifth inning on a throwing error from the Warhawk’s catcher, scoring Nick Vogt and J.J. Cruz to make it 5-0. With two innings to play, the game now rested on the shoulders of Robison.
As Robison’s secondary pitch took shape in the latter half of the ballgame, so did his efficiency. The BYU commit allowed just one baserunner from the fourth inning on, completing seven full shutout innings and sending the MGF Marshalls to the championship contest.
“I approached every hitter the same, especially the Warhawks,” Robison said. “They are a really good team with great coaches. I just try to block out the hitter and try to hit my spots.”
Midland got the best of MGF to begin the Pathway Games Omaha but three consecutive victories later, the Marshalls are a more confident team heading into Thursday’s championship rematch.
“I just feel like we have to play as a team, put the ball in play and hit everything hard,” said Ortiz.
The Midland Redskins left no doubt.
Racing to an early lead in the semifinals of the 2019 Pathway Games Omaha, Midland wouldn’t let up, cruising to a 14-1 win over the MNS BlackSox and vaulting into Thursday’s championship.
“The first game we played in this tournament was a great way to get us started,” said head coach Dave Evans. “These last three games, we’ve started to hit the ball a bit better, our pitching has gotten better and overall the boys are a bit more focused.
“We’re here to get some great experience before our end of the season tournament.”
Starting pitcher Chase Silseth found his groove early. In each of the first two innings, Silseth dialed up two strikeouts and set down the BlackSox in order.
“I just got ahead early,” explained Silseth. “When you get ahead, attack the hitters and not fall behind you can have a good day. When I threw my off-speed, I kind of sped their bats up and then I would just attack them with a fastball.”
The right-hander’s sterling three innings included five strikeouts and just one walk. Even with the free pass, Silseth went straight into defensive mode, starting a nifty 1-6-3 double play to back control of the game.
“We were very pleased with Chase’s effort today,” said Evans. “He had taken a little time off and this was his first outing for us. He's a great pitcher and we know what to expect from him every time he's out there.”
On the offensive side of the plate, Midland’s effort did not waiver. The Redskins were quick to put up five runs in the bottom of the first inning that started with an RBI double from Dominic Tamez.
“We saw a lot of fastballs today,” said Tamez. “They had good side-arm guys who kept the ball low. We were able to make the adjustment and stay locked in.”
After adding a run in the second inning, Midland exploded for eight runs in the third. In total, 11 different Redskin batters finished Wednesday afternoon with at least one hit. Tamez’s 2-2 day with an RBI and two runs scored topped them all.
“We’re all hitting really well right now,” Tamez said. “We’re hitting well as a team. We just need to keep it together as a team and work hard toward the finish.”
Cody Sharp took the reins in the fourth inning for Midland. Despite surrendering a run, Sharp finished off MNS with two strikeouts in the fifth, ending the contest, 14-1.
“Obviously, we want to win this thing,” said Silseth. “Every tournament we play in, we feel like we have the ability and the mindset to win. We’ve had the approach of attacking teams and that’s what we’ve done."
The win lands Midland in the championship set for 11:30 a.m. CT on Thursday morning. The Redskins will go head-to-head with the MGF Marshalls, a program that’s no stranger to the boys from Cincinnati.
“This tournament has worked out exactly the way we wanted,” Evans said. “We’ve played some great teams already and we face another great team that we’ve had some history with tomorrow. It’s going to be a good dogfight.”
The Ohio Warhawks steamrolled through pool play at the 2019 Pathway Games Omaha. Sidestepping the Nebraska Prospects, 12-0, on Monday, the Warhawks latched together two consecutive victories on Tuesday, downing the MNS BlackSox 9-0 and finishing off with an 8-0 win over Great Lakes 17u Black.
“We’re still fighting to get to know each other,” said head coach Ron Slusher. “We try to teach our kids to take advantage of every opportunity.
“You have to get them out of showcase mentality and learn to help each other. It’s a good tournament with some really good teams and we’re having fun.”
After blanking Great Lakes in the top of the first inning, Ohio got right down to business in the bottom half of the frame. A single and a double would set up Kai Roberts with an opportunity to push across the game’s first run. Roberts promptly lifted the ball to deep left field, putting the Warhawks on the board.
“I was looking for a fastball early,” Roberts said. “I got the pitch I was looking for and I took advantage of it.”
Once it grabbed the lead, Ohio would not look back. Capitalizing on a pair of errors from Great Lakes, the Warhawks added two runs in the third inning and two more in the fifth, extending its advantage, 6-0.
In the thick of everything was Roberts. His efficient day at the dish included two hits, a hit-by-pitch, a sacrifice fly, two runs scored and two RBI.
“I’m just trying to get stronger right now,” said Roberts. “We’re just trying to do our best and win some games this summer.”
Meanwhile, Ohio’s army of pitchers was keeping Great Lakes at bay. In six shutout innings, Warhawk pitchers combined for six strikeouts. In the rare cases where Great Lakes managed to get into scoring position, the Ohio defense turned up its intensity, grabbing flashy double plays in the fourth and sixth innings.
“Our team ERA is 1.20,” said Slusher. “That’s unheard of at this level. This team doesn’t want to give up a run. When it comes close, these boys have a good tendency to bear down.
“Everyone gets more hard-nosed. Our pitchers throw more strikes. Our defense doesn’t let anything by them. These guys are great kids.”
Two more runs plated on five walks in the bottom of the sixth inning pushed the Warhawk lead to 8-0, good enough for a run-rule with an inning to spare. Ohio’s win not only marked a third straight victory in pool A but also a No. 1 overall seed as bracket play begins Tuesday morning.
The Warhawks will match up against the MGF Marshalls who are coming off two consecutive wins themselves. The semifinal contest is set for 10:30 a.m. at Werner Park.
“I just want them to show up and play like they’ve been playing,” Slusher said. “Whatever happens, I want them to lay it on the line tomorrow.
“We’re going to play some pretty good teams from here on out. We’re pretty familiar with the teams left in this tournament. We usually have some pretty good games between us. It’s going to be a dogfight.”
Following a pair of losses to open the 2019 Pathway Games Omaha, the Nebraska Prospects were looking to rebound Tuesday morning against the MNS BlackSox. Despite falling behind early, head coach Scott Stahlecker and his boys responded valiantly with a four-run second frame en route to a 7-2 victory.
“The teams in this tournament are pretty salty,” said Stahlecker. “We only carry 16 guys and we just flat out got beat yesterday. We knew we were going to play some good teams, but the big picture with this tournament was just to work on the little things. Today, we finally put the bat to the ball.”
Prospects starting pitcher Ryan Mendez surrendered a walk in the opening at-bat of the game, and a stolen base and an RBI single later, the BlackSox jumped out to an early 1-0 lead.
“Today, we just had fun and focused on what we need to do,” said Prospects catcher Jaxson Simmerman. “Yesterday, we were a bit lackadaisical but today we came out and had no pressure and just got things done.”
Simmerman and the Prospects wouldn’t have to wait long to put some runs on the board. Noah Greise led the bottom of the second inning off with a walk. Two batters later, Trevor Barajas’ triple evened the score at one.
“I saw a lot of fastballs,” Barajas said. “I was able to get deep in the count and see the different types of pitches they were throwing at me until I was able to get on top of one.”
The Prospects weren’t done just yet; not usually known for power, Simmerman would do one better than Barajas’ triple. Turning on a fastball and sending it over the fence for a two-run home run, Nebraska vaulted into in the lead, 3-1.
“I saw a first-pitch fastball,” explained Simmerman. “I was expecting a curveball on the next pitch but when I saw another fastball come out of his hand, I just put a good swing on it.”
Adding a fourth run in the second frame, the Prospects had a commanding 4-1 advantage.
With a sizeable cushion and a bit of confidence, Mendez began to find his groove on the mound. Pitching five complete innings, Mendez struck out five, gave up two hits and allowed just a single run.
“Ryan threw pretty well today,” Stahlecker said. “He didn’t get a real good feel for his breaking pitch until about the third or fourth inning. He was able to keep us in the game until we got some runs on the board and keep us ahead once we did.”
Back-to-back-to-back hits for Nebraska, including two triples from Max Renn and Garrett Anglim, led to two more runs in the fifth frame. All of a sudden, the Prospects owned a six-run lead with just two innings to play.
In stepped Grant Hubka to pitch. Similar to Mendez, Hubka stumbled a bit out of the gate, giving up three hits in his first inning and letting a run come across. However, the right-hander righted the ship in the final inning, delivering two consecutive strikeouts to end the contest.
“Hubka is a big body,” said Stahlecker. “He hasn’t thrown a ton for us but will definitely be throwing a lot more. He had a good fastball today and was able to get his breaking ball going in that last inning, which really sealed the deal.”
With pool play in the rearview mirror, the Prospects will be the top seed in the Silver bracket and will face Great Lakes 17u Black on Wednesday morning at 10:30 a.m. at J.J. Isaacson Field.
“As a team, we just got to stay loose,” Barajas said. “We need to try to have fun again. We play well when we’re having fun and staying loose.”
2018 PW Games Albuquerque All-Tournament Team
Brent Rigtup - Blue Jays Scout Team, Tournament MVP
Seth Casias - Blue Jays Scout Team
Treston Shallenberger - Blue Jays Scout Team
Ben Schoneman - Blue Jays Scout Team
Connor Usher - NMSB Nationals
Joseph Klaus - NMSB Nationals
Jeremiah Mares - Rawlings Red Devils
Jace Notbohm - Outlaw Baseball Club
Seb Morrow - Outlaw Baseball Club
Ethan Hixon - RA Baseball Academy
Jaxon Fullmer - RA Baseball Academy
Damien Roddy - MAC Elite 2020
Trenton Riehl - Thompson Valley Eagles
Jaidan Quinn - Advanced Baseball Academy
Cooper Ciesielski - Catamount Gold, Tournament MVP
Christopher Garcia - Catamount Gold
Brayton Wilmes - Catamount Gold
Jace Dominick - MAC Elite 2022
Jason Duran - MAC Elite 2022
Derek Martinez - MAC Elite 2022
Morgan Pickett - Premier West
Elias Fiddler - Premier West
Ty Power - RA Baseball Academy
Zaylun Fenn - RA Baseball Academy
The Post 13 Blue Jays Scout Team had trailed just once prior to the Pathway Games Albuquerque Upperclass championship game. While the Blue Jays may have fallen to MAC Elite on Saturday, Tuesday’s contest was another matter. Post 13 scored 10 unanswered runs to capture the title, 10-5, over the NMSB Washington Nationals Scout Team.
“We were down but we weren’t out,” explained head coach Danny Gonzalez. “We got to together as coaches and started thinking about what kind of adjustments we could make at the plate.
“We were never too flat. We thought it was just a matter of time before we broke loose again.”
Both teams had chances to break open the scoring early. Twice in the first two innings, NMSB had a runner just 90 feet away from home but failed to convert each time.
The Blue Jays themselves had runners in scoring position in the first and third innings. Defense prevailed once again, leaving the contest scoreless.
NMSB finally broke the stalemate in the top of the third inning with three runs, and stretched its lead, 5-0, with two more in the fourth.
“When we went down, we knew we needed to pick our energy up,” said Benito Garcia. “In the next inning, our intensity went up and we started hitting the ball again.”
Garcia and the Blue Jays' climb back into the ballgame began in the bottom of the fourth inning. Three straight singles quickly loaded the bases, putting the pressure back on the shoulders of the Nationals for the first time on the afternoon.
Although the Blue Jays only plated a single run in the fourth, the group carried its momentum into the fifth. All 10 batters came to the plate in the half-inning for Post 13. In total, the Blue Jays rallied for seven runs on five hits, including a two-RBI double from Garcia that, at the time, brought Post 13 within one, 5-4.
“Taking the first pitch is my thing to do,” Garcia said. “It helps me stay back and get into the at-bat. I was looking for something middle in or middle out all day. When I got my pitch, I took advantage of my opportunity.”
Garcia wouldn’t have to wait long to celebrate a newfound lead with his teammates, coming around to score two batters later on Thomas Ben Schoneman’s single. Lead in hand, Post 13’s avalanche of runs wouldn’t stop.
The sixth inning gave two more runs to the Blue Jays and another double for Garcia as he capped off a 4-4 day at the dish with three RBI and two runs scored.
Ultimately, a 1-2-3 effort in the top of the seventh frame sealed an impressive victory for coach Gonzales and Post 13, 10-5.
“This team really came together of the course of this tournament,” said Gonzales. “Nobody put anybody else down. They supported each other. They were behind each other.
“They picked each other up when they were down. It was a nice surprise and I am proud of the way they handled themselves.”
Though early in the Summer, Post 13 seems primed to get the most of its 2019 campaign.
“It’s a great start,” Garcia said. “The win lets other teams know that we aren’t a team to mess around with, take easy or let off the hook. Today, we proved we play really good ball.”
Lightning delayed a portion of Pathway Games Albuquerque on Monday afternoon. It didn’t bother Premier West 16’s, though, as the Colorado-based crew moved past Elite Baseball, 10-2, earning a spot in the 2021/2022 semifinals on Tuesday.
“It’s quite early in the Summer for this squad and I don’t think we’re quite where we need to be yet,” explained head coach Derek Hines. “The best thing is, we have such good parts, there’s no individual stuff on this team.
“I’ve been teaching this group effort thing and they’ve been doing a great job of buying in and playing their game.”
Premier’s dominance began on the mound with Morgan Picket. Though Pickett would surrender runs a pair of runs in the fourth inning, he also struck out seven and dialed up three 1-2-3 innings.
“I only threw two curveballs all day,” said Pickett. “My two-seam fastball was blowing by kids all day. When they did make contact, they fouled it off. I only gave up a couple of hits and a couple of walks. Overall, it was a pretty good turnout.”
Offensively, it was Pickett who got the ball rolling in the bottom of the first inning. His leadoff walk led to the game’s first run, a common theme for Premier all game long. In fact, in four of five innings, Premier’s leadoff batter reached on a walk, hit-by-pitch or a base hit. Premier tallied six walks in total on the afternoon.
“Our coaches challenged us to have better approaches at the plate,” said Elias Fiddler. “We needed to get better today and it paid off.”
Fiddler’s patience paid dividends for Premier. Even though he didn’t record a hit until the fifth inning, he earned RBI in the second and fourth innings with a groundout and hit-by-pitch, respectively, and topped off his 1-2 performance with a two-RBI triple in the fifth.
“I took a couple of more pitches in each at-bat,” Fiddler said. “After a while, I started seeing the ball well and having a better overall approach at the plate.”
Elite got on the board with a pair of runs in the top half of the fourth inning. Ben Leiphart’s double, combined with Nate Hirsh’s single tied the game before lightning delayed the contest for 30 minutes.
Out of the break, Premier appeared focused and energized. Premier’s first five batters all reached safely, leading to five runs, including RBI from Fiddler, Pickett, Alan Duty and Grant Gabbert.
“Before today, we hadn’t experienced much adversity as a group yet,” said Hines. “We had our little lightning delay and I challenge our guys to remain focused and not get distracted by their phones or social media during the break.
“I thought after the stoppage we were a little better and we got a couple of runs right away because of it.”
Now pitching with a five-run lead, Pickett continued to his fine form on the mound. Alongside his seven-strikeout performance, he also relied on defense for eight putouts.
“It’s only my fourth time playing with this team,” Pickett said. “It’s incredible to play with such talented teammates who always back you up by making great plays.”
“I love stealing strikes for [Picket],” said catcher Hayes Edens. “If I can make sure he’s smiling, having fun and not taking each moment too seriously, I know he’ll get into his groove.”
Premier’s victory vaults them into the 16u semifinals against Catamount Baseball Gold. The matchup is set for 10:20 a.m. on Tuesday morning.
“We’re in a good mindset right now,” said Edens. “We’ll sleep in late, show up ready to play like we normally do and go play our brand of baseball.”
MAC Elite’s undefeated record in pool play gave head coach Michael McDermott’s squad a rightly-earned bye in the opening round of the 2019/2020 bracket. Meanwhile, Thompson Valley had to fend off Advanced Baseball Academy to secure its spot in the quarterfinals.
Despite striking first in the opening half-inning, Thompson Valley could not stop MAC Elite at the plate as Elite cruised into the semifinals with a 13-3 victory.
“We’ve been swinging hot bats all weekend,” said McDermott. “I can’t point to one single guy this week. We are 13 players deep on this team. Everyone has been contributing in one way or another.”
With Thompson Valley already in front, Elite came together for a loud response in the bottom end of the first. Twelve batters in total came to the plate as MAC Elite pushed across seven runs on six hits, including doubles from Ethan Collins, Roy Jennings and Derek Romero.
“We weren’t really concerned with them taking the lead,” explained Logan Garcia. “It was only the top of the first and we’ve been rolling lately. Once we had our turn to bat, we knew we would keep doing our thing.”
Lead in hand, Roy Jennings went to work on the Bump, breezing through the second frame in 1-2-3 fashion. Jennings would allow just three runs on just two hits.
MAC Elite failed to score in the bottom half of the second inning with the bases loaded. The only blemish on an otherwise spotless scorecard.
“Coming into this week, I wanted each guy to perform to his ability level,” McDermott said. “It just so happens that all 13 guys are doing that at once. They are meeting every single expectation I had coming into this week.”
The Elite offense went back to work in the bottom of the third. With two on and just one out, Logan Garcia pocketed a two-RBI with a double, and would also come around to score to put MAC seven clear of Thompson Valley, 10-3.
“I wasn’t seeing any one thing in particular at the plate,” said Garcia. “If it’s a strike, I’m going to swing the bat.”
Elite added two runs in the fourth and needed just a single run in the fifth to close out its stellar quarterfinal performance. Fittingly, Jennings book-ended the ballgame with the first pitch of the contest and the final swing, tallying his third RBI and solidifying MAC Elite’s victory, 13-3.
McDermott and company will have Monday afternoon off before playing its semifinal at 8 a.m. Tuesday morning.
“I honestly wish we were playing again sooner,” McDermott said. “However, at the end of the day, they’ve been able to joke around and have fun.”
“When they’re relaxed, loose and having fun, that’s when we’re playing our best baseball. If they are up in the dugout focused and making noise tomorrow morning, I know we’ll be ready to go.”
The afternoon does give MAC Elite a chance to relax and take in what’s been an incredible weekend for the Rio Rancho natives.
“I’ve been to many showcases with these guys and I can tell you this has been second to none,” said McDermott. “The amount of contacts and the amount of coaches that are here is truly impressive.”
“I can tell you with certainty, as long as this tournament is held, MAC Elite will be here.”