East Cobb Yankees win Connie Mack World Series
Powerhouse Georgia program prevails in 51st title game
FARMINGTON, N.M. -- The conclusion of the 2015 Connie Mack World Series, a prestigious 18-and-under amateur baseball tournament held annually in Farmington, N.M., was plagued by bad weather and ultimately won by the East Cobb Yankees, a powerhouse program from a suburb north of Atlanta.
Three teams made it to the championship round of the double-elimination tournament: the Yankees, the Prairie Gravel of Illinois, and the Midland Redskins of Ohio. The players on these elite teams aren't just your typical local high school boys -- most of them will be suiting up in college uniforms for the first time in a matter of weeks, after commitments to top programs like Vanderbilt, Louisville and Miami. Some will follow in the steps of players like Matt Harvey, Eric Hosmer and Marlon Byrd -- just to name a few of the Major Leaguers who played in the CMWS.
The Gravel and Redskins were randomly selected to face off in the first game of the championship -- a rematch of the previous night's semifinals.
The Redskins are a team steeped in tradition and national success, while the Gravel are an upstart group competing in its first CMWS. The differences in team philosophy were immediately apparent. During warmups, Gravel players stood in a circle rapidly flipping a ball to each other using only their gloves. Midland players ran laps.
As early as the bottom of the first, Midland looked poised to take its revenge, racking up two hits and a run. But then Mother Nature intervened, and rain began to pour down in thick sheets. The stands were evacuated and the field was covered.
When play resumed after a delay of about two and a half hours, the momentum completely shifted in favor of the Gravel. They scored five runs in the top of the second, and they were up, 9-1, at the end of the fourth. Even a grand slam by Midland third baseman Hayden Senger wasn't enough to keep the Redskins in the game.
Prairie Gravel had already won over the Farmington community with their consistently potent offense and rise from relative obscurity. To the hometown crowd's delight, the Gravel won, 13-7. They were paced by first baseman Cristian Sanchez, who went 2-for-4 with four RBIs, and second baseman Michael Massey, who went 3-for-3 with two RBIs and two runs.
It was already 11:30 p.m. local time when Prairie Gravel took the field again to face East Cobb, another veteran of the CMWS. Yankees manager James Beavers was calm and collected at the start of the game, simply saying he was glad to be playing instead of watching from home.
The Yankees had to catch an early flight in Albuquerque N.M., so the coaches agreed at the beginning of the game that a new inning would not begin after 1 a.m., and an absolute cutoff time was set for 1:30. If the game did not reach the fifth inning, the two clubs would be joint champions. However, some controversy ensued after East Cobb took a 7-0 lead in the bottom of the second.
Gravel supporters were frustrated with the Yankees for needing to cut the game short. In turn, Yankee fans seemed to think Gravel was delaying the game to become co-champions, with one fan even heckling a Gravel player as the player paused to tie his shoe, and some fans booing whenever the catcher or coach walked out to speak to the pitcher.
Ultimately, the Yankees won, 7-5, after the holding off the Gravel in the top of the fifth. Following the game, Beavers said he felt there was "some gamesmanship on both sides," referring to the delays by the Gravel and his own pitcher's rapid-fire approach to move the game along.
Despite any manipulations of pace, East Cobb secured their victory with a beautiful second inning of play, racking up seven runs after the Gravel had already secured two outs. The big blows were struck by designated hitter Carter Hall, who hit a two-run single, and catcher Joey Bart, who crushed a three-run triple to put the Yankees up, 7-0. Both Hall (34th round, Braves) and Bart (27th round, Rays) were drafted and June, but both are headed to Georgia Tech to play college ball. Hall's father, Danny, is the head coach at Tech.