The Yankees, based out of Marietta, completed a 5-0 perfect week with a 6-2 victory against 2012 CMWS winners, the Southern California Renegades, on Friday night at Ricketts Park in Farmington. They claimed the sixth CMWS crown in East Cobb’s history and the first for the team since 2008.
“When you come out to Farmington and play like this and get another national championship in what is the biggest championship for 17- and 18-year-old boys, it means a lot to the program in the future and now. It means a lot to these guys,” Yankees manager James Beavers said. “I can’t say enough about the way we played. It is something none of them will ever forget. I have former players in Major League Baseball and all over the country, and they still talk about how much Connie Mack meant to them.”
Friday night’s win was not certain until the seventh, as the two teams went into the final inning tied 2-2. With Southern California reliever Ryan Kayoda on the mound, East Cobb’s Brandon Gold, who was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player, came up with a leadoff single to spark a Yankees run spree.
Milton’s Ryan Gridley came through with a one-out single to put East Cobb runners on first and second. Southern California manager Si Pettrow relieved Kayoda with closer Brian Serven as East Cobb leadoff hitter Stephen Wrenn, the former Walton standout and future Georgia Bulldog, came to bat.
Wrenn had an infield single, but Gold, a recent Johns Creek graduate, made a wide turn at third base. The Renegades threw behind Gold to try to get him diving back in to the base. Gold was safe, and East Cobb loaded the bases with one out.
With the infield in to try to cut down a run at home plate, East Cobb’s Wade Bailey hit a chopper into right field to drive in Gold and Gridley, and give East Cobb a 4-2 lead in the top of the seventh.
“Biggest hit of my life,” Bailey said. “We practice that situation all the time. I was just looking to put the ball in play. I got a good pitch and got a little lucky, but it worked. It was a great feeling. Baseball is a crazy sport, and I am glad it worked out like it did.”
Pettrow believed bases loaded situation should have never happened. He questioned the call at third base when Gold was ruled safe diving back into the bag.
“The win waswell-deserved by East Cobb, but it was a crucial call at third base with an umpire, again,” Pettrow said. “It went East Cobb’s way this time, and they capitalized on the bad call, in our opinion.”
East Cobb came through with two more insurance runs when former Science Hill standout Will Craig was hit by a pitch to bring in Wrenn, and former Northview star Jason Delay came up with a sacrifice fly to score Bailey.
East Cobb reliever Bryan White shut down Southern California in the bottom of the seventh, striking out Miller to end the game. White, a recent Etowah graduate, earned the win after throwing two shutout innings. He gave up just two hits and struck out two.
Milton graduate Payton Smith started the game for East Cobb and went five innings before giving way to White. Smith gave up two runs on five hits while striking out three and walking two. He carried a 32-inning shutout streak into the game and saw it come to an end at 33.
“Pitching here was great. This whole team of ours can hit. As a pitcher, you are in a comfort zone when you pitch because our hitters are incredible,” Smith said.
East Cobb didn’t score until the fifth inning as recent Pope standout Nathaniel Lowe, and Gold hit consecutive singles to start the inning. Gridley then came through with a two-run double to give the team a 2-1 lead.
It was part of an incredible series for Gridley, who was 4-for-5 against Strike Zone on Thursday before going 2-for-3 Friday.
“It has been a surreal experience. We got down early but came back and worked as a team out there to make our dreams come true,” Gridley said. “I would never consider myself a typical nine-hole hitter. I would consider myself as more of a double leadoff man. This entire experience is something I will be telling my grandkids about some day.”
Other Cobb and Cherokee county players on the Yankees include – Mount Paran Christian graduate Jordan Versteeg, Pope graduate Patrick Wiseman, Cherokee grads Eli Dickens, Mason Ward and T.J. Waterbor, and Etowah graduate Tanner Shelton.