The Rays Scout team is back home after doing battle in the Perfect game WWBA World Championships in Jupiter, Florida over the weekend.
For the 3rd time in 6 years, the Rays played in the pool that produced the winning team. With 17 pools of 5 teams, there is a 5.8% chance that a pool will produce the winner. For this to happen 3 times in 6 years is difficult to comprehend.
The Rays started play on Thursday with a single game against the Texas Sun Devils, a group that also featured a number of very athletic players from Mississippi. On the mound for the Devils was Devon Roedahl from Beaumont Texas, a loose armed righty who has been up to 93 this fall.
The always dependable Calvin Lebrun took the hill for the Rays and tossed 3 scoreless innings, allowing 2 hits and one walk. At the same time, the Rays weren’t having much luck against Roedahl, but were creating chances. Alejo Lopez reached in the first on an infield error but was picked off.
In the top of the second, Payton Squier led off with a single, but Collin Gable, Erick Migueles and Tyler Williams went down in order to end the threat.
In the 3rd, after Kyle Palmer and Ryan Oberg were retired, Tyler Frost singled through the right side of the infield, but Marcus Still struck out to end the inning.
The Rays finally broke the ice in the 4th. With 2 outs, Squier singled sharply to center. Gabel followed by reaching on an error by the shortstop with Squier moving to second. Migueles, a junior from CDO in Tucson, stroked a sharp line drive to left, scoring Squier to give the Rays a 1-0 lead. Williams then barreled a hard line drive, but right at the second baseman for the 3rd out.
Trenton Stoltz (Paradise Valley) took over in the 4th, and worked 2 scoreless innings. He retired the side in the 4th, and allowed a single in the 5th but picked the runner off to end the inning.
Horizon’s Trevor Horn came on in the 6th to try to close the deal and was electric. Horn was up to 91 on the gun and was too much for the Sun Devil hitters. He allowed a single in the 6th, but struck out the side. In the 7th, the leadoff hitter reached on a dropped third strike, and moved to second on a sac bunt. Horn then retired the next hitter on a routine fly ball to center and shut the door with a K to end the game. Horn struck out 5 hitters in his two innings of work.
Offensively Squier was 3-3 and scored the game’s lone run. Migueles was 1-2 with a walk and an RBI. Frost, Zach Taylor, and Cameron Ming all added hits for the Rays.
Lebrun, Stoltz and Horn combined to limit the Devils to 4 hits.
On Saturday the Rays faced a doubleheader, matching up with the Ontario Blue Jays and then the pool favorite the Evoshield Canes.
Salpointe junior Jio Orozco took the mound for the Rays against Ontario, and made it clear right out of the chute who was in charge. Orozco fanned the first 2 hitters he faced. The next hitter lined a ball up the middle that shortstop Alejo Lopez calmly gloved on one hop web-gem style, spun and made the throw to first for the final out of the inning.
The Rays wasted no time taking control of things. Lopez led off with a single to left, and Trevor Horn flared a ball down the right field line for a single. A walk to Squier would load the bases bringing Jayden Eggimann to the dish. Eggimann grounded sharply through the hole to score Lopez. Erick Migueles and Collin Gabel would follow with consecutive base on balls scoring 2 more, and a pair of passed balls would put the Rays up 5-0 after one.
Orozco would set down the Jays in order in the second, and the Rays started the bottom half of the inning with walks to Gabe Hamilton and Horn. Squier would knock in Hamilton with a base hit up the middle, and Eggimann would plate Horn and Squier with another knock, putting the Rays up 8-0.
Ontario scratched a run off Orozco in the third, and 3 more in the fifth off Nick Wojtysiak to make things interesting. Nicko Ortega was able to shut down the threat, working 2 1/3 innings without allowing a hit or a run while fanning 3.
Orozco K’ed 6 in his 3 innings of work.
This set up the showdown with Evoshield, a squad with 22 D1 signees on the roster and one of the tournament favorites coming into the event.
Tyler Frost took the mound for the Rays and was dominant in his 3 scoreless innings of work, allowing a solo hit and striking out 3. Cameron Ming came on in the 4th and did not allow a base runner in his 2 innings of work.
Meanwhile, the Rays had their chances, putting runners in scoring position in the third and sixth innings, and loading the bases in the fifth only to be turned away. Some very questionable ball/strike calls played a role.
Sati Santa Cruz came on in the 6th for the Rays, and recorded a pair of strike outs in a scoreless inning. He sat 91-93 on the gun. Evoshield finally broke through in the bottom of the 7th with a lead off single, a walk on a 3-2 pitch that again was extremely questionable, and a perfectly executed bunt down the third base line to load the bases. A sac fly would score the game’s only run.
On Sunday, the Rays finished up with a game against Northeast PG Vegas Gold. Gabe Hamilton started on the hill and was victimized by some poor defense against a group that could swing it a little. PG scored in the first 4 innings and led 6-1 going into the bottom of the 4th.
The Rays bounced back in the bottom of the inning, scoring a pair of runs on a Ryan Oberg single and a fielder’s choice grounder from Cameron Ming.
In the fifth, Marcus Still’s sac fly would score Trevor Horn to cut the lead to 6-4. In the 6th, Squier started with a single, followed by a walk to Zach Taylor. Ryan Oberg’s sharp grounder would result in a 5-4-3 double play but Squier would hustle around and score to cut the lead to one. Unfortunately that was all the Rays could muster.
Trenton Stoltz and Calvin Lebrun combined for 3 scoreless innings of relief.
For the weekend, Squier was the hitting star, going 6-11 at the plate for a .545 BA.
The pitching staff was outstanding, compiling a 1.793 ERA, striking out 30 while walking only 9 in 27 innings of work.