All-Stars playing in the 14-year-old division win Babe Ruth Tournament
By Jim Brockman
SARASOTA – The one sure-fire way to win a baseball tournament is to win every game you play. It takes out all of the guesswork.
The Sarasota All-Stars did just that, winning all four games they played at the Babe Ruth State Tournament, including the championship game on Sunday.
Playing in the 14-year-old division, Sarasota’s Stars defeated Fort Myers American, 3-1, to claim the crown at Babe Ruth Park.
Sarasota’s Jacob Traeger was nearly flawless, pitching the first six innings and allowing just one unearned run. The tall right-hander struck out the side in the top of the fifth inning and fanned six Fort Myers batters in all.
“Jacob is always so reliable,” longtime Sarasota manager Todd Williams said. “Our starting pitching never failed us throughout the entire tournament.”
Traeger’s approach on the mound was simple and effective.
“My arm felt good,” Traeger said. “I just felt the zone and let them hit it.”
And Sarasota’s defense didn’t let him down. The defensive play of the game came with one out in the bottom of the sixth inning and a runner on third base for Fort Myers.
Holding on to a two-run lead, Sarasota left fielder Matt Schefer caught a fly ball and gunned a throw to catcher Justin Huggins, who had ample time to tag out the runner attempting to score from third.
Schefer also drove in an insurance run in the bottom of the fifth with a two-out single to center field. Shortstop Joel Vazquez-Garcia scored on the play after reaching base on a single to right and stealing a base. Vazquez-Garcia stole three bases in all.
All three Sarasota runs were courtesy of clutch two-out, base-hits.
Sarasota finally broke up the scoreless tie in the bottom of the fourth inning after third baseman Andrew Rhymestine led off with a single to right-center. After Rhymestine stole second base, Matthew Page provided the first crucial two-out RBI.
Sarasota second baseman Cooper Middleton was next to deliver when it mattered most, pounding a double down the left field line to score Page for a 2-0 lead.
“Cooper Middleton, Matthew Page, Matt Schefer, all came up big when we needed it,” Williams said. “The whole team played a great tournament. I couldn’t be more proud of these guys.”
Middleton was the lone Star to collect two hits on Sunday. He also singled to left in the second.
Right-hander Logan Machenheimer earned the save, retiring the side in order in the top of the seventh.