The Lake Nona Lightning 14-Major (pictured) from Orlando won this past weekend’s Champions Cup Super NIT by defeating the Kangaroo Court Roos 5-4 in the title game to win its fourth USSSA championship in 2019. Manager Romeo Mitchell’s club is now 37-7-1 on the year, including an impressive 17-4 mark In Class.
The Champions Cup in Sarasota, Florida attracted 163 total teams dispersed among 17 different divisions from 8U – 14U. In the 14U 60/90 division, 11 teams entered, all from the host state to compete in a pool play round into single elimination bracket.
Lake Nona got off to a strong start against ABA Gold from Tampa who entered with a sub-.500 record. The Lightning shutout Gold 6-0 behind two, three inning efforts on the hill from Caden Scarborough and Carlos Torres. They faced a stiffer challenge in the second of two pool games versus the Midland Swarm Prime. The Swarm, from Lutz, Florida, largely silenced the Lightning bats and won 4-1. They earned the top overall seed heading into the bracket phase. The Lightning were given the fourth seed – the highest of the five teams that finished pool play 1-1. This was due to their stingy 2.0 average runs allowed tiebreaker metric.
On Sunday, in bracket competition, the Lightning were able to avoid playing in the first round because of their seed number. Having to win three games instead of four to take the trophy in a given day is a huge advantage. Still, the Lightning faced a game Baseball University Drumheller team in the quarterfinals. The five-seeds put up a real fight and pushed the game to extra innings. In the tenth the Lightning finally broke the 7-7 tie and won 8-7. Pitchers Matthew Rumardo (6 innings) and Carlos Torres (4 innings) deserve extra recognition as they were stretched.
In the semifinals the Lightning were given a rematch with the Swarm who had just dismantled its quarterfinal opponent 8-0. This time the Lightning enacted some revenge on the top seeds, sneaking by a one-run victory, 5-4. Jeremy Rivera went the near-distance on the rubber as he pitched 5.1 innings before giving way to Nomar Almodovar who recorded the final 2 outs.
Close calls weren’t over, however. The Lightning ran into an exceptionally talented Kangaroo Court Roos team in the finals and prevailed in yet another one-run game. This was by the identical 5-4 score to hand the Roos its fourth loss in 20 games this season.
Along with this championship, the Lightning won tournaments at the CFL Wood Bat Nationals, College Event Series I and Cupid’s Invitational all this year.
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