It was a great week of baseball in Blacktown, as the 2019 U16 and U18 National Youth Championship were held, and Baseball Queensland put up a solid showing, with both the U16 and U18 taking home 5th place honours.
Starting with the U16 team, they put together a 6-5 total record, capping it off with a 9-6 win against the Australian Capital Territory in the fifth place game.
After starting the tournament 3-5 they had to put to together a couple big wins in the final days of round robin play to unsure a top five finish, and they did just that. Pulling off a tight 3-2 win over Country NSW, then another close 7-6 defeat of South Australia, securing their spot in the fifth place game against ACT.
The U16’s were lead by a balanced offensive attack, with seven players finishing the tournament with an average north of .300. At the top of the list was Luke Smith who went a staggering 14-22 (.638), while driving in five runs. This was enough to earn him the Top Hitter Award for the tournament. Cain McClelland also brought a hot bat to Blacktown, picking up 13 hits in 25 at bats.
Jamie Fox was the only player to start all 11 games for Queensland, and with good reason, and he put together a quality tournament at the plate. Hitting .333 in 33 at bats, he also had four extra base hits and 17 total bases. Fox also drove in seven runs, second only to teammate Josh Anthony for the team lead.
On the pitching side, Joel Hogan lead the team with three starts, and picked up 8 strikeouts in 9 innings pitched. As for pitchers with more than 6 innings pitched, Declan Summerford and Billy Richters had the top ERA, at 3.12 and 3.72 respectively. Summerford also lead the team with 13 strikeouts. Jackson Grounds pitched a team high 10.2 innings.
Defensively, Queensland also featured the top defender of the tournament, Lachlan Wilson. Wilson made 12 putouts and had 22 assists throughout the tournament. Kylan Pierce also was solid, putting up a 1.000 fielding percentage, converting 23 putouts.
Here’s a quote from Queensland manager David Badke on his team’s performance this tournament:
“The overall performance of the team was solid; however, we did not take opportunities when they were presented to us. Tournament baseball needs consistency; we need to continue to develop in this area.
I’m happy with the improvement these guys have made since the program commenced back in September. There is a lot of good things happening with these young players and they will continue to develop and be bigger and better for this experience.
It was also good that the guys kept turning up each day and finishing the tournament on a positive.
It was great to see two of our players receive recognition for their individual performances with Luke Smith receiving the Hitting Award and Lachlan Wilson the Golden Glove.”
The U18’s were in a similar position as their U16 Queensland counter parts, as they started off the tournament a little slow, going just 2-4 over their first six contests. They then pulled themselves together to reel off five consecutive victories to claim fifth place and finish the tournament with solid 7-4 record.
They claimed fifth place on Sunday thanks to a great showing against Country NSW, scoring 14 runs en route to a 14-4 seven inning win.
A big strength of this Queensland team was their offence as they scored 91 runs over the course of 11 games (8.27 runs per game). They had no shortage in great offensive performances.
Riki Ward (.436) and Angelo Natale (.433) both hit above .400 in over 30 at bats. Liam McDonald lead the team with 17 RBIs and 24 total bases, while hitting .366 in 41 at bats. Franco Natale was right behind him, driving in 13 runs and picking up 22 total bases. Alex Skepton had the most at bats on the team, and he did work in those appearance, hitting .378 while picking up 19 total bases.
Leading the way on the mound for Queensland was Patrick Day, who started three games and finished the tournament with a sparkling 1.38 ERA in 13 innings. Right along side him was Brock Wollin who made three appearances (two starts) and across 14 innings put up an excellent 1.29 ERA, tops on the team (min. 5 innings pitched). Both Day and Wollin struck out eight batters.
Jack Waters also had a solid tournament, pitching to a 3.75 ERA over 12 innings, while striking out 10 batters. He was second on the team in strikeouts, with Deegan Powell leading the way with 13 total strikeouts in 11.1 innings of work.
On defense, Seth McClelland picked up 41 putouts and five assists for a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage. Franco Natale was as solid as he was busy, making 95 putouts to go with 6 assists.
Here’s a quote from Queensland manager Gareth Jones on his team’s performance this tournament:
While the results might not have gone our way the u18 Qld team have played well in some challenging conditions. We played some high quality games with close score lines against the teams that finished in the top four but fell just short against VIC Blue, NSW and WA.
Our starting pitchers continue to turn in quality outings and our hitters have only got stronger as the tournament progressed.
“I would like to congratulate the players and the coaching staff on another fantastic year in our Junior Elite Pathways. The Nationals caps off the Male JEP programs with U16 and U18 Teams having a tough tournament, just finishing short on a few critical games and both finishing in fifth place. There were some great individual and fantastic team performances throughout the Nationals.
Along with their competitiveness and respectfulness on the field, both teams represented their State very well off the field. We pride ourselves not only what we do on the field, but how we manage ourselves off the field as well.
Congratulations to Lachlan Wilson (U16), Golden Glove and Luke Smith (U16) Golden Bat on their awards.
Further congratulations to Liam MacDonald, Brandon Bidois and Alex Skepton on their U18 Australian Team selection. Joining them will be Gareth Jones, U18 Field Manager, who is on the U18 Australian Coaching Staff. They will be competing in Guam at the BCO World Cup Qualifier.
We will review the year and I look forward in continuing what went well and implement new strategies through 2019 in preparation for a successful 2020 National Championships.”
We at Baseball Queensland would like that thank all the players on the U16 and U18 for all their work, effort, and attitude on and off the field, throughout the tournament and the whole season. You should all be proud of your showing and how you represented Queensland on the National stage.
We would also like to thank all the parents, umpires, scorekeepers and volunteers who helped make this tournament possible for our boys to enjoy.
Congratulations again to all who competed in the tournament and helped lead Queensland to two 5th place finishes, and good luck the rest of the season.
Finally, here is a quote from Baseball Queensland CEO Paul Gonzalez:
“I would like to acknowledge the efforts of all the U16’s players, coaches, supporting staff and parents throughout the ten days, at the Nationals in Sydney.
These young men have not only shown heart but character, integrity and passion for the game. Baseball Queensland’s continue to not only grow competitive baseball players but promising young men.
A special acknowledgment must also go out to the following Award winners at this year’s National event:
Golden Glove: Lachlan Wilson – QLD
Golden Bat: Luke Smith – QLD
Thank you all for “Building a Better Future for Baseball”