ASAP Prospect United 14U (pictured above) from Santa Clarita, California, upset a field of 24 teams this past weekend at the USSSA Winter Classic Super NIT. The Prospect United entered the tournament carrying a AAA designation while several squads had Major classifications. Nonetheless, the Prospects went 4-0 over two days of competition and outscored opponents by a combined total of 36-2. This was the first USSSA tournament entered this season for manager Rainel Caranto’s team.
The Winter Classic attracted 134 teams across seven age divisions. Each team played a two-game pool schedule before being seeded based on record and average runs allowed. From there the 24 teams in the 14-Major division were broken into five different single elimination brackets. The division that would ultimately determine a tournament champion was the 14U Championship – which started with six teams.
The ASAP Prospect United team began its pool schedule versus a fellow AAA team from California, Rampage Powered by Sports Academy. This was not much of a matchup as the boys from Santa Clarita blanked the Rampage, 9-0. The next game really announced that the Prospects were legitimate title contenders. ASAP was faced up against the Sidewinders, a Major team from Simi Valley, CA. The Prospects absolutely throttled the sidewinders, 17-0 in a mercy rule shortened game.
At the conclusion of pool play, ASAP Baseball and West Coast Baseball had identical metrics and were given the top two seeds. Both teams were 2-0, didn’t allow a single run through two games and had an average differential of 8. They advanced to the championship bracket and were deservedly given first round byes. The other four teams to join them in the prestigious bracket was: LA Xtreme 14U White, Simi Strike Gold, Ventura County Baseball Academy and I-E Easton 14U.
On Sunday morning, LA Xtreme shutout I-E Easton 4-0 to advance and take on West Coast Baseball while Ventura County mercy ruled Simi Strike Gold 12-2 and would matchup against ASAP Prospect United. The top two seeds distinguished themselves as the teams to beat and had little trouble with their semifinal opponents. West Coast won 7-1 while ASAP Prospect notched its third consecutive shutout while plating seven runs against Ventura County to set up an epic championship game showdown.
In a fitting ending to a game featuring two evenly-matched teams, ASAP Prospect United won in dramatic walkoff fashion as they opened the bottom of the seventh inning with a double, followed by a sacrifice bunt. Then they took home the title on a sacrifice fly to deep right field plating the runner, Pierantoni.
Kai Caranton was the hero on the mound for Prospect U as he threw two innings, allowing 0 hits and 0 runs while striking out 5. Ian Duarte spun four innings on the mound for the winning side surrendering just 4 hits and 2 runs against a powerful offense.
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