First came the news that Tyler Beede would be playing in next month’s prestigious Aflac All-American Game at Petco Park. ("I was shocked," he said this past weekend.) This week in East Cobb, Ga., the good times continue to roll.
Beede, an Auburn, Mass., resident, was a key component to the Virginia Canes 16-and-under squad capturing its second straight World Woodbat Association national title Monday. The Canes, one of several teams loaded with Division 1 commits, plated 10 runs in both their semifinal win over the Houston Banditos (10-5) and championship final victory over the Carolina Cubs (10-4).
"It's tremendous," said Beede, who was also on last year's squad. (His birthdate, May 23, allowed him to just make the cut even though he's 17.) "Thankfully, we got back to the same place and ended up winning again. It's a special thing, not many guys can say they've won a national championship, let alone two."
Armed with a fastball that’s topped out at 94 miles per hour and a sharp 12-to-6 curve, the Vanderbilt-bound right-hander was dominant over the 10 days he traveled with the team. In 13 innings, he struck out 22 batters while walking just two, and allowed two runs and six hits.
Massachusetts’ other representative next month at Petco, Dexter School’s John Magliozzi, is another continuing to do good on his hype this summer. Suiting up for the East Cobb (Ga.) Braves along with high school teammate Barrett O’Neill (an Ashland, Mass., resident who has committed to Virginia), he also participated in the national title game.
After some fine-tuning of his mechanics following the high school season, the Florida-bound Magliozzi has seen his velocity come along well, reportedly hitting as high as 96 on his fastball.
"I felt like I was on top of the world," Magliozzi said of his All-American selection.
As for Petco, it will be Magliozzi’s fifth trip to a major-league ballpark, having stepped on the field for games at Fenway Park, Tropicana Field and the Metrodome. He’ll be at Yankee Stadium on July 27 for a workout. The mystique, though, never gets old.
"It’s just nuts, how amazing those places are,” Magliozzi said. “The atmosphere must be crazy with that place full. There’s going to be a lot of people there [in San Diego], and it’s going be awesome to play there with all of the best players."
The other big showing in the WWBA tournament was the surprise run by the New England Ruffnecks’ 17U squad, which advanced all the way to the final 16 last week before losing 2-1 to the Miami-based All-American Prospects, who hadn’t given up a run all tournament.
All week long, the Ruffnecks got solid work from their starting rotation, including Catholic Memorial’s John Gorman, Winnisquam (N.H.) Regional’s Jordan Cote, Tewksbury’s Matt Luppi, and Lincoln-Sudbury’s Carl Anderson and Adam Ravenelle. David St. Lawrence of Pomfret (Conn.) performed well in the closer role, while A.J. Zarozny of St. John’s (Shrewsbury) was solid out of the lead-off spot.
But the play everyone will be talking about is Lincoln-Sudbury’s Ben Smith chasing down a foul ball, going airborne, crashing over a brick wall -- and holding on for the out.
"I didn’t think he had shot at making it, then all of a sudden he’s tailed over the fence,” Walsh said. “It was pretty awesome to see, sacrificing his body for the team."
And if the way guys like Beede, Magliozzi and O’Neill have performed this summer isn’t convincing enough, the Ruffnecks are hoping a showing like this raises the profile of baseball in the Northeast.
"Judging by what people were telling us after that, no Northeast team had ever advanced as far," head coach Greg Brookes said. "I think if we weren’t on the map before, we’re on the map now. Some of those Southern teams admitted to us, when they see a Northeast team on their schedule they think they’re going to walk all over us. I think we changed the thinking of some of the Southern teams."
"Nobody’s really going to sleep on the Northeast anymore," said Anderson. "It just kind of puts us out there, everyone knows we’re competing now. They’ve still got to get ready for us. It’s not just another team from the Northeast."