Suns win the USSSA Super NIT in Vero Beach to qualify for Elite World Series
April 9, 2014
The Central Florida Suns won the USSSA Super NIT tournament this past weekend at the historic Dodgertown in Vero Beach. The tournament victory gives the Suns an automatic berth in the USSSA Elite World Series held at the ESPN Wide World of Sports at Disney from August 2-8.
After playing two of their worst games of the season in a 12-11 loss to the West Broward Warriors and an 11-4 loss to Metro Red, the Suns went 4-0 in bracket play to capture the tournament title.
The two losses in pool play forced the Suns to play a third game of the day on Saturday to start bracket play. The Suns came out and made a statement by defeating the Florida Pokers 8-0. Jacob Glazar and Kaiden Perez combined for the shutout.
The victory on Saturday night would set up a matchup versus the #1 seed coming out of pool play, the Bandits 9u Elite. Starting pitcher Hunter Kwiatkowski would step up to the challenge and dominate the Bandits for much of the game. The Suns would also play one of their most outstanding defensive games of the season, led by the play of centerfielder Jacob Glazar, who made several game saving plays. The Suns offense put constant pressure on the defense of the Bandits, forcing the Bandits into 3 crucial errors while collecting 8 hits in the 5-4 victory. Kwiatkowski pitched into the 6th inning before Joey Wimpelberg would come on to get the final 3 outs for the save.
In the semifinal, the Suns faced the CBC Riverhawks Black. The Suns would strike first by putting up 2 runs in the top of the first. The Riverhawks eventually took at 7-2 lead going into the top of the 4th. The Suns bats came alive and put up 7 runs over the next two innings to take a 9-7 lead. Joey Wimpelberg started the game and went the first 1 and 2/3 innings before Brayden Kintner came in to get the last out of the 2nd inning. A bullpen by committee consisting of Kaiden Perez, Brayden Spence and Andrew Bubon would keep the Riverhawks in check for the rest of the game and secure the 9-7 victory. The win put the Suns in the finals and set up a rematch against a team who beat them a day before in pool play, the West Broward Warriors.
The Suns jumped out to an early lead again in the final by scoring 4 runs in the top of the first. Jax Phillips started the game and would be dominant versus the Warriors, giving up just 2 runs over 4 innings. The Suns continued the day's outstanding defense by making several great plays in the field. Brandon Henning, making his first appearance on the mound since an arm injury, came in to shut down the Warriors for the final two innings. The 7-2 victory gave the Suns the tournament championship and earned them a berth in the USSSA Elite World Series.
It took a complete team effort to win the tournament title. The Suns pitched 10 of the 11 players on the roster. The only player who didn't pitch was catcher, Denzel Flores, who caught every inning on Sunday and whose presence behind the plate helped keep the Suns' pitchers in command of the game.
The Suns will continue to work hard the rest of the summer in the hopes of winning a national title in the USSSA Elite World Series or the other major national championship they've qualified for, the AAU Grand National.