2012 18+ Wood Bat

Georgia Barons manager Jason Tolhurst is about to get wet

Pratt hooks his Marlin
Georgia Barons 2, Miami-Dade Marlins 0

By Chris Errington, MSBLNational.com

Jupiter, Florida November 11, 2012 – It took seven years, three semifinals and finals losses and five years of calling, but Jason Tolhurst finally got the ice-bucket bath he’d been craving.

He can thank one monumental pitching performance from Ted Pratt for seeing to that.

Pratt, playing his first MSBL Fall Classic with the Georgia Barons, was nearly flawless the entire tournament, then finished his stellar week by blanking the Miami-Dade Marlins on just three hits to capture the 18 Wood Bat Championship at Roger Dean Stadium.

“Because we’ve come so close before and walked away as losers, we thought we’d never win this thing,” a cold and soaked, yet jubilant Tolhurst said. “We’ve been chasing the ring. You want the title that comes with it, but we really want that ring. We’re just all thrilled to finally get it.”

In what was clearly the best pitching matchup of the entire tournament, Pratt, who’d earlier thrown a four-hitter and came on in relief to earn two victories, outdueled Miami-Dade starter LeAndro Cespedes – but just barely. With the teams combining for just seven total hits, both starters matched scoreless innings through the first five – the only threat ending when Sergio Morales’ perfect throw to the plate easily beat Miami-Dade’s Lester Trimino to end the fourth.

Two innings later, the Marlins blinked.

Pratt and John Gracia led off the top of the sixth with singles and Trey Hendrix sacrificed both runners into scoring position. Cespedes got Chad Vosepjka to ground to second with the infield playing in for the second out to set the scene for the game’s pivotal play.

Cespedes seemed poised to escape without allowing a run when Denson Gleaton hit a high, but shallow, fly ball to left. Miami-Dade leftfielder Gilbert Garcia was in fine position to make the play but, battling a shifting and gusting wind, dropped the potential third out, allowing Pratt and Gracia to score the only runs the Barons would need.

“[Garcia] feels sick about it, but that’s just baseball,” Miami-Dade manager Paul Guelmas said. “It’s a cruel game sometimes. Both pitchers were lights out, but a team has to win and a team has to lose.”

Mixing a hard fastball with change-ups and sliders, Pratt (3-0) allowed just one base runner over the final four innings. Alberto Cornier’s two-out single in the seventh was quickly erased when he was thrown out trying to steal.

For his efforts, Pratt was an obvious choice for team tournament MVP. The former Southern Polytechnic University, Gordon College and Truett-McConnell College star said despite the results, he wasn’t sharp throughout the game and that it was just through coincidence that he was playing with the Barons at all.

“[Tolhurst’s] been after me for five years to get on his team down here,” Pratt said. “This was the first time we got lucky and my team wasn’t coming.

“I definitely wasn’t 100 percent, didn’t have my ‘A’ stuff, but I kept pitching to my strength and had good tilt on my breaking ball. It didn’t matter what the score was, I would have pitched the same way if it was 0-0 or 10-0.”

Georgia finished the tournament 5-1, going 3-1 in round-robin play, before getting a trio of key hits to top the Coral Gables A’s 4-2 in the playoffs. Trailing 2-0 in the fifth, Morales’ two-run homer tied it, before Gleaston’s one-out, two-run double in the eighth won the game.

Miami-Dade, which lost for the fifth time in five Fall Classic championship games, finished round-robin play unscathed then survived the Dallas Barons 10-9 in the playoffs when Norberto Susini and Max Johnson hit back-to-back ninth-inning doubles to push the Marlins into the title game.

18 Wood Bat 2012 MSBL Fall Classic champion Georgia Barons