Lamorinda Baseball Club

LM 18U’s Path to the Connie Mack World Series Finals

(Reported by Head Coach Kevin Stanley)

We traveled to Albuquerque, NW for the CMWS qualifier with only 13 players for a double elimination tournament, and one of them got hurt, leaving us with 12. We lost game 1 to the El Paso Suns, 4-2 in a tough ball game. Facing elimination the rest of the way, we would not lose again…beating Strikezone 18u 11-4, Colorado Slammers 5-4, MW Mustangs 4-0, Albuquerque Baseball Academy 4-0, and Elite 5 Baseball 7-2 in the championship game. It was truly a team effort to come out of the losers bracket and win the tournament. Every single kid played a role, but Christian Strand and Nico Zeglin led the offense, and we got three outstanding pitching performances to close out the tournament. Connor Sullivan threw a complete game shut out vs MW Mustangs. Nico Zeglin threw a complete game shut out vs Albuquerque Baseball Academy, and Luke Saunders went 6 innings allowing 2 runs in the championship game.

Next up was the Connie Mack World Series in Farmington, NM.  Again we would only have 13 players, when every other team there had between 20-30 on their roster. Most teams had more pitcher only-players, than we had total players.  We got a tough draw in our pool, being in the same pool as two perennial powerhouse teams at the CMWS, the Southern California Renegades and the Florida Legends.

Game one was against Wilson Sandlot, from AZ. We won 4-3, coming from behind to take the lead on two home runs from Christian Strand, and a good outing from Evan Tomlinson on the mound.

Game two was later that day, and was another come from behind effort vs the Florida Legends, as we tied them 6-6. Strand hit his 3rd homer of the day, and Luke Saunders made an outstanding catch leaping up against the wall in the RF corner to save the tie in the last inning before the time limit expired.

Game three vs the SoCal Renegades was a tough loss, 8-3. They are a very talented team, and we made too many mistakes to beat them on that day. With the Renegades going 3-0 in the pool, they automatically advanced to the bracket portion. We needed some help from the Wilson Sandlot team, as they closed out pool play vs the Florida Legends.
They ended up beating the Legends, sending us as the 2nd team from our pool into the double elimination bracket portion of the CMWS.

Our luck in the draw would stay the same, as we had to play the defending champion Midland Redskins in game one of the double elimination bracket. We gave up 4 runs in the first inning, but would grind it out and come back to win 6-5. Bodhi Bolen was excellent in relief that day, shutting down the Redskins offense, giving our offense time to do some damage and take the lead, which we would not surrender.

Game two was against the host team, the Farmington Fuel. We played in front of a packed house that night, with at least 10,000 in attendance. We would go on to win 7-4, to advance to the next round still undefeated in bracket play. Nico Zeglin was terrific on the mound that night vs a scrappy offense.

Game three was a tough loss to D-Bat Bonesio, 11-2. We battled them all game, and kept the score close through 5 innings, and then their bats exploded to finish out the game, giving us our first loss in bracket play.

We were now in a very familiar spot, with our backs against the wall, having to fight off elimination the rest of the way. Game 4 was another tough, come from behind 6-5 win vs Ropes Florence 18u, from Texas. Evan Tomlinson really competed on the mound, even though he didn’t have his best stuff that day.

Next up, we got the rematch we’d been waiting for vs the SoCal Renegades. This time we played good clean baseball, and defeated the Renegades 6-0, behind an excellent pitching performance by Luke Saunders, throwing 6 innings of shut out baseball.

With a chance to get into the championship game vs the Midland Redskins, who ran roughshod over the competition after losing to us in game one of bracket play, we would get another chance at the D-Bat team who beat us a few days earlier. We started the game absolutely on fire offensively, and got up big early. Their bats would once again get red hot, and we also had our worst game of the tournament defensively, making several costly errors to allow them back into the game. Despite the mistakes, we continued to battle, and threw out a runner at home plate in the bottom of the 7th to send the game into extra innings. We would eventually take the lead in the top of the 9th, but wound up losing 10-11 in the bottom of the 9th, eliminating us from the tournament.

We were hands down the crowd favorite of the tournament. They loved how we played with a fiery competitiveness, even though we had half the roster size as everyone else. After being eliminated, there were hundreds of fans waiting for us after the game to show their support for the effort these boys made all week long. We came from behind so many times, and that resiliency and belief in ourselves was contagious for the fans. Seeing all the LM apparel that the fans were buying at the concession stand, or making at home and wearing to our games was something I know none of us will ever forget. Truly a once in a lifetime experience to have accomplished what we did, especially doing it the way we did it.

All Tournament Awards:

Nico Zeglin – First Base

Kirk Woolf – Outfield

Trent Green – Outfield

Luke Saunders – Pitcher

Bodhi Bolen – Pitcher