Angels Red 14U AAA (pictured above with their program-mates) won its third USSSA tournament championship of the fall/winter season this past weekend at the 6th Annual Ice Crystal Championship Global World Series Qualifier in Sarasota, Florida. The Angels went 4-1 overall and outscored its opponents by a combined total of 51-9 including a title game trouncing of Angels Grey 12-0. Manager Mark Persails has led his club to an impressive 14-4-1 overall record, including 6-4-1 In Class.
The 14-Open division of this Global WS Qualifier featured 9 teams (the entire tournament attracted over 100), all from the South Florida zone of USSSA sanctioned play. Each squad was either Major or AAA classified, ensuring a top level of competition. After a two-game pool play first round, the teams were seeded one through nine based on overall record and average runs allowed. They were then placed into a single elimination bracket to determine a champion.
The Angels Red began its title run in pool play versus the Southern Squeeze, a Major team with a .500 record. This turned out to be a monumental mismatch and not in the way one would anticipate. The Angels demolished the Squeeze 15-0 in a mercy rule shortened game and didn’t need to use a single pitcher beyond one inning. Anthony Palestrini, Branson Ashley, Deven Gonzalez and Joshua Cruz all pitched one frame for the winning side.
The second game of the day for the Angels was a big-time competitive balance check. They would drop a tough 5-4 game to the Boca Hitmen (AAA) which would hurt their seeding placement for the bracket round. Still, the Angels Red claimed third overall seed behind the two undefeated squads, ABA Gold and Boca Hitmen, tops of the 5 1-1 teams based on average runs allowed and differential.
The Angels Red first bracket opponent was the Midland Swarm Prime (14-Major) who was also 1-1 in round robin play but had a negative average differential number. The Angels had little trouble downing them 9-1 behind the complete game effort from star pitcher Adan Longoria (6 innings). In the semifinals the Angels had a rematch with the Hitmen and were looking to avenge their earlier loss.
They would get that revenge in the form of an 11-3 victory behind the pitching arms of Branson Ashley (3 IP), Austin Primacio (1.2 IP) and Joshua Cruz (.3 IP). The Angels Red would advance to the finals and meet an unexpected friend in the matchup – their program teammates, Angels Grey. The Grey team was the fourth overall seed after pool play and they rattled off three straight wins after dropping an opening game decision to reach the finals.
Unfortunately this title tilt was one-sided in favor of the Red team and it ended via mercy rule fashion. Still an incredible ending to a fun weekend of youth baseball action.
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