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2017 New York Nine Scout Team Summer Season Recap

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The 2017 summer season saw the New York Nine Scout Team experience great success on and off the baseball diamond. On the field, the Nine defeated a who’s who list of area “powerhouse” programs en route to a 33 victory season with an outstanding .750 winning percentage (33-9-3 overall record).

The 2017 Nine Scout Team was a very special team. The passion the team played with, respect for the game and care that they had for each other and the coaches was incredible. All summer, opposing coaches and players, parents, tournament staff, scouts, college recruiters and spectators all commented on how the club carried themselves, cared about each other, played with passion, and was just more talented and athletic than almost everyone else. One ACC coach mentioned this was the closest thing to a GCL (Gulf Coast League) team he had seen in some time.

The team claimed three major tournament titles, winning the Blue Chips East Coast Championships, the Mid-Atlantic Showdown at Baseball Heaven and the Baseball Heaven Independence Championship. In their final three tournaments, the team amassed an incredible 17-0 record. Upon claiming the East Coast Challenge Championship they defeated the Body Armor Titans, for the Independence Championship they trumped the Bayside Yankees and in non-tournament action beat teams such as Next Level, Youth Service and NABF World Series participant SAYO Grays.

The most memorable moment of the summer belonged to a rising senior. During the Blue Chips East Coast Championships, the Nine were down to their final out trailing by two runs. Pinch hitter Jesse Spellman stepped to the plate and hit an improbable two out, two run home run that caromed off the left fielder’s glove trying to rob him, as he jumped over the fence. The home run tied the game, ultimately allowing the Nine to win in the ninth inning and advance to the semi-finals.

After the game, Scout Team manager Ian Millman stated, “I am both proud to have been a part of this special group and honored to be their coach. #TeamPanda will live forever. Vamos Panda!”

As a unit, the offense hit a robust .315/.423/.454 (batting average, on base percentage and slugging), good for an incredible 6.1 runs per game. In 1384 plate appearances, the Nine had 358 hits with 105 going for extra bases (74 doubles, 9 triples and 22 home runs). There were 197 offensive walks and 294 strikeouts in the 45 games.

Carlos De La Cruz led the team in batting average (.444), 2nd in OBP (.496) and 1st in slugging (.789). He also led the team in home runs (7), doubles (11) and RBI (49). He tied for the team lead in hits (48), finished 2nd on the team in runs (32) and tied for 2nd in stolen bases (10).

Danny Perez finished 2nd in batting average (.379), 1st in OBP (.511) and 3rd in slugging (.544). He also finished 1st in walks (26), 3rd in hits (39), 3rd in doubles (9) and 2nd in RBI (29).

Danny Alfonzo finished 3rd in OBP (.484), 2nd in slugging (.581), 2nd in home runs (4), 2nd in doubles (10) and 3rd in RBI (23). He also finished 3rd in runs with 31 and led the team and set a New York Nine record with 12 HBP.

Angel Presinal finished 3rd in batting average (.372), tied for first in hits (48) and led the team in stolen bases (14) and runs (34).

Nick Vella finished tied for 3rd in home runs (3, with Francisco Soriano), finished 2nd in walks (23) and tied for 3rd in stolen bases (10).

Elvis Torres and Oliver Fernandez tied for 3rd in walks (16).

On the bump, Nine hurlers threw 284 innings, struck out 324 and had a 2.44 team ERA. In those 284 innings, the Nine only allowed 206 hits. The Nine struck out 25.7% of batters faced, generated an impressive 11.9% swing and miss rate and had a 49.6% ground ball rate.

Chris Pichardo led the team in wins (8), set the organization’s record and tallied 14 victories in his previous two seasons.

Dimitri Papazoglou struck out 41 (good for 2nd) in 27.2 innings. Dimitri struck out 35.3% of batters faced and generated swings and misses on 18.7% of pitches. He controlled his contact, allowing only 3.29 hits per 7 while generating a 53.8% ground ball rate.

Austin Cole led the team in strikeouts (43) and only allowed 3.78 hits per 7.

Anthony Costa led the club with a 1.82 ERA to go along with 4 wins and 33 strikeouts (finishing 3rd)

Mark Novello struck out 30 in 23.2 IP

Mike Garcia struck out 17 in 11 IP and had a 1.27 ERA

DJ Flug struck out 21 in 20 innings with an excellent 64.2% ground ball rate to go along with 4 wins

Brayan Garcia struck out 26 in 17.1 IP while only walking 4 with a 1.62 ERA. He also had a 55.8% ground ball rate.

Bryant Gomez struck out 19 and had an ERA of .84 in 16.2 innings

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New York Nine Win East Coast Championships at Baseball Heaven

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The New York Nine Scout Team ended the 2017 summer season in grand fashion winning the Blue Chips East Coast Championship at Baseball Heaven in Yaphank, Long Island. In their final three Baseball Heaven tournaments, the Scout team went on an incredible 17 game winning streak, finishing those tournaments at 6-0,6-0 and 5-0 respectively.

The tournament opener saw the Nine face the Long Island Titans (who finished the tournament 3-1), beating them by a 6-2 score. In the first inning, Danny Alfonzo was hit by a pitch for the 11th time this summer, which is a new Nine record (the previous record held by Ricardo Espinosa, stood since 2006). With two on, Carlos De La Cruz took an 0-1 fastball and drove it out of the park. The very next batter, Oliver Fernandez, went back to back, hitting his first home run of the summer. With the score cut to 4-2, in the 6th inning, Danny Perez hit the longest home run of the summer, which scouts in attendance said would have landed in the upper deck of Yankee Stadium. The very next batter, one Carlos De La Cruz hit his second home run of the game putting the Nine comfortably ahead 6-2, where the game finished. Austin Cole fanned four in his final start for the Nine, while Matt Demartini pitched a perfect 2 2/3, striking out four in the win.

In game two of pool play, the Nine faced a tough New York Grays team and their hard throwing righthander John Rodriguez. Daniel Alfonzo opened the scoring in the top of the first inning hitting a missile into the left centerfield trees plating Freddy Rojas for a quick 2-0 lead. The Grays quickly tied the game in the bottom of the first on a two out, two run single and took the lead in the second, 3-2. After an Alfonzo leadoff double and a Danny Perez walk, Carlos De La Cruz singled to center plating Alfonzo. Perez scored when JP Compres reached on an error. In the fourth inning, Shawn Harrison led off with a walk and forced at second on a Preston Milano groundout. Angel Presinal singled to push Milano to 2rd and Alfonzo singled on a fly ball to right to score Milano. Perez then hit a long double to center field to score Presinal and Alfonzo, giving the Nine three runs in the frame. The Grays cut the lead to 7-4 in the fourth and the Nine completed their scoring on a Jesse Spellman single, Harrison walk, Presinal RBI single, Rojas walk and an Alfonzo RBI groundout. Anthony “Ace” Costa was superb considering the lack of strike zone, tossing a CG and striking out 6.

Having already clinched their pool, the Nine played an early Sunday morning contest against the CGI Braves out of Long Island. DJ Flug got the start striking out four, allowing two hits and no runs. Eury DeJesus fanned two in his inning of work, and Mario Medina worked a perfect inning striking out a batter. The Nine once again jumped on the board early as Carlos De La Cruz, who you may have heard of by now, hit another three-run homer. In the second, Shawn Harrison, Elvis Torres, Nick Hernandez and Angel Presinal all walked to start the inning. Freddy Rojas scored Elvis Torres on an RBI and Danny Alfonzo‘s sac fly scored Hernandez. Carlos De La Cruz reached on an error, scoring Presinal, leaking the Nine out to a quick 7-0 lead. The bottom of the third saw more of the same as a Nick Hernandez walk plated Jesse Spellman and a Presinal ground ball single to center scored two. Danny Alfonzo added an RBI on yet another HBP. With this win the Nine moved into the quarter finals as the 4th seed.

On a drizzly, rainy day, the first game of the playoffs saw the Nine take on the fifth seeded Freedom Baseball out of Long Island. Starter Wellington Belen was solid, fanning five in five plus innings while giving up three hits. In the top of the sixth, after a walk and double chased Belen, Freddy Rojas got consecutive ground outs to Shawn Harrison, who did not convert either out at the plate and Freedom ended their inning up by two. Mike Garcia held the game where it was with a perfect seventh setting the stage for one of the greatest moments in Nine history. With one out Carlos De La Cruz singled on a line drive to left, followed by a Rojas flyout to left. With an 0-1 count, pinch hitter Jesse Spellman did this:

What is unclear in the video is the leaping attempt by the left fielder to rob him of a home run. This is similar to the final play of the 2016 season where Oakland Athletic draftee, Nate Webb put a bases loaded fastball over the centerfield wall in Charleston, South Carolina only to have it brought back. Fortunes would be different this time as Spellman’s shot caromed off of the glove of the left fielder falling over the fence for a home run, tying the game at 2. With score still knotted at two in the 9th inning, the bases were loaded with one out. Reliever Brayan Garcia punched out two consecutive hitters with fastballs in low 90s to get out of the inning. In the bottom of the inning, with the bases loaded, Angel Presinal hit a fly ball over the left fielders head scoring pinch runner, Braulio Melo to push the Nine into the semifinals vs. the Body Armor Titans, the tournament’s number one seed who had not allowed a run all tournament.

That streak ended quickly as Francisco Soriano lasered a 3-1 fastball into the parking lot in right center giving the Nine a quick 1-0 lead. The Nine scored another run in the top of the second when Oliver Fernandez singled to right center, and when trying to throw out Jeremy Bueno, the center fielder threw the ball into the dugout, giving each player 2 bases. Starter Chris Pichardo battled the rain all game, allowing a run in the bottom of the second and another In the bottom of the third, when he escaped further danger by getting a shallow fly out to center, leaving the bases loaded. After a brief delay due to driving rain, the Nine came out swinging with a Danny Perez fly ball single followed by Elvis Torres running for Perez. Freddy Rojas lined a single to right and Jeremy Bueno‘s single to center plated Torres. Rojas scored on a Fernandez force out and Braulio Melo scored on a Shawn Harrison single, which was followed by a Leury Tejada single scoring Harrison. The Nine plated four runs in the frame giving them a 6-2 lead. In the bottom of the 5th, Body Armor cut the lead to 6-3 on a deep double to left. Chris Pichardo was incredible the rest of the way, with the hard fought complete game victory. The win was Pichardo’s 8th, a New York Nine record, and 14th victory in the past two seasons. This was also the Body Armor Titans second loss all summer. As the rains fell again the tournament was halted, and co-champions were declared. The Nine were the only five win club in the tournament and beat the number one seeded playoff club in the process. It was a fitting ending to a fantastic summer. The final record for the Scout team was an outstanding 33-9-3.

Tournament notes:

Angel Presinal led the team in batting average and OBP and had a line of .500/.588/.571
Carlos De La Cruz slugged 1.000 for the tournament with a team leading 3 home runs and 8 RBI
Shawn Harrison led the team in walks with 6 and had a .538 OBP
Danny Alfonzo set the Nine record for HBP in a season and got hit with 2 pitches this tournament. He hit .417/.500/.833 with a team leading 5 runs scored.
Oliver Fernandez slugged .889
Danny Perez hit .333/.500/.667 including the longest home run of the season, and his 3rd on the season
Anthony Costa led the team in strikeouts with 6 and had a 63.2% ground ball rate
Brayan Garcia struck out 75% of batters faced
Matt Demartini struck out 50% of batters faced
DJ Flug had a groundball rate of 71.4%
The Nine averaged 7 runs per game and hit .306/.437/.545 as a team
The Nine allowed an average of 2.2 runs per game and struck out 32 in 32.2 innings.