16u Wins Diamond Sports Promotion – Judson University Invite
Force Elite 16u Red accomplished a feat that many teams dream of… They took down their second championship in the 2015 summer season. During the pool play round, 16u Red finished with a 3-1 record while outscoring opponents 39 to 14. The 3-1 record and +25 run differential was good for the 2 seed out of 14 teams respectively.
Force Elite Red rendered 10 runs to the Illinois Patriots. “We didn’t throw strikes.” According to coach Ramos, who’s team gave 17 FREE BASES. “We walked 11, hit 4 batters, and made 2 errors. You have to give credit where it is do, they took advantage of our mistakes. We battled back to make it 10-6 which is key moving forward because our run differential was only -4.”
Force Elite gave the ball to Eathan Stoneburg (Aurora Christian). His job was simple; Throw strikes, let the defense work, and control the pace of the game. “Ethan threw great. His command was sharp and his energy was awesome. He worked quick and our bats came alive to help him.” 16u Red ended up bouncing back with a 13-0 victory.
Going into Saturday, the job was simple… Win two and get in the final four. Starting Pitcher Nolan Pechan (St. Francis HS) dealt. He went the distance throwing only 85 pitches. The bats stayed hot putting up 10 runs and giving up 1. Half way to the goal of winning two.
Win one and you are in. Force Elite did not disappoint. Knowing where they were in the standings, the FE 16u Red team shined behind Connor Bizik’s (St. Charles North) arm and Anthony Delisi’s (St. Charles North) bat. Bizik went four innings giving up 1 earned run. “Connor was battling cramps in his calf, but he showed some real mental strength by wanting to go back out on the mound, and I’m glad he did!” Delisi stole the show offensively, going 3-3 with a single, double, and triple. The offense stayed hot batting 20 hitters in one inning Eventually winning 16-3. “That is an amazing feat as a team! Batting 20 hitters in one inning says a lot about our approach at the plate. “Being disciplined is a big part of what we do.”
In the first game Sunday, Eathan Stoneberg did it all! Coming off short rest (45 pitches Friday) Stone wanted the ball again. And he made the most of it. “The Illinois Indians are a great club with a quality group of guys. Both teams had opportunities to score but both teams also played excellent defense.” Stone gave up one earned run through 6 innings of work (eventually one ER in seven) however the drama came down to the bottom of the sixth.
In the bottom of the sixth, trailing 1-0 the team needed a runner on base. Raph Rhoades (St. Charles North) did just that, leading off with a walk. Catcher James Boals did the job and got him over. The next batter grounded out, leaving Rhoades on third base with 2 outs. “At this point, as a manager you hope your hitter up to the plate can just find a way to get it done… and we did!” Connor Bizik was that guy all tournament. Bizik worked the count full and hit a hard groundball to deep short, however his effort out of the box allowed him to beat it out! Bizik’s RBI single tied the game. Next, Jason Shanner (St. Charles North) doubled. Second and third two outs, guess who? STONEBERG.
“It is that classic situation in this age group,” says coach Ramos “I love when pitchers get a chance to drive in runs. This doesn’t happen too often in Varsity ball, but we embrace it on our team.” Stone hit an RBI single to put the team ahead 2-1, BOTH RUNS ON TWO OUTS!
Stoneburg sealed the deal and shut down the tribe in the seventh.
“After a dramatic game to get there, it is important that the focus shifts to the next game. Short memories are key.” Said coach Ramos. But the team was not affected, and looked forward to the next challenge. FE standout Trevor Wilcox took the mound in the championship game. “Trevor threw well, he changed eye levels, threw backward when needed, but most importantly… he worked down in the zone.”
While Wilcox was working on the mound, the bats were put to the test again. Facing another good 16u arm, the game was in balance throughout its duration. After turning two double plays in the 2nd and 3rd innings, the team was only trailing 1-0 going into the bottom of the seventh.
In the seventh, 16u Red started the inning with a strikeout. With one out, Nolan Pechan reached on a single to right, stole second and was in scoring position with one out. Rhoades then lined out to right. With two outs in the bottom of the seventh, catcher James Boals came up to bat. Get a hit and have a chance to win a championship. He did just that! Boal’s hit tied up the game, forcing extras.
“I had a good feeling about James. He has been doing it all year for us. He is a strong kid and hits the ball hard in almost every at bat. I knew we had a good shot to win after we tied it. That is the beautiful thing about sports and riding momentum.”
After holding the Naperville White Sox scoreless in the eighth, it was FE’s time to shine. With two outs and a man on first, short stop Drew Poleoz (Wheaton South) drew a walk, Holden Gilkey was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Clean-up hitter, Brenden Norberg came up to the plate with a chance to win it.
“Brenden had been doing well all weekend, except for Sunday. He was struggling and I could see some doubt in his at-bat in the seventh inning. I told him that he was going to have a huge at bat later for us.”
Brenden delivered! In a 1-2 count, Norberg shot a single up the middle for the walk off win!
“I credit these last two victories to our early season schedule. We have been the victim twice of the walk off loss.I am a firm believer in scheduling the hardest schedule I can early in the year. I want these guys to drop some close games early so we can adjust and make sure we pull out wins down the road. I honestly think losing those two games helped us play with some moxie. “
Some cool stats from the weekend:
Batted 20 batters in one inning.
Had double Run Differential of closest team.
Gave up only 7 runs in last 5 games
Ethan Stoneberg won 2 games.
Connor Bizik went 10-14 with a walk and 2 HBP
Drew Poleoz made every play on the weekend. 17 assists 8 put outs
Championship Sunday: Our Pitchers rolled 22 Ground ball outs. Made every play.
Hit .412 as a team for the tournament.