Commentary | Bradenton RBI team heads to World Series

July 31, 2012 

Bradenton baseball has a chance to be featured on the Major League Baseball Network next Monday.

The Bradenton RBI program qualified for this week's World Series in Minnesota. The team advanced from the Southeast Regional and makes up one of eight seniors (16-18 year olds) division clubs in the field.

Bradenton begins pool play on Thursday against the Chicago White Sox RBI and Houston RBI teams.

They'll take on Caribbean representative Venezuela RBI on Friday.

"It's huge for us being able to make the World Series representing not only Bradenton and Manatee County, but the whole Southeast region," said Patrick Carnegie, who is the President and CEO of United Community Centers Inc. that oversees the 13th Avenue Dream Center at Norma Lloyd Park where the local RBI team plays. "Because we were able to beat teams from all over the Southeast on our way to the World Series. And it's the first time our program actually qualified. We've made it to the finals of the regionals before, but never qualified for the World Series."

Each team progresses to Saturday's single-elimination portion of the tournament that matches up the four North and four South division teams based on seeding from pool play.

The winners of the first games on Saturday advance to the afternoon semifinals.

The championship game is scheduled for Sunday at 1 p.m. (local time) with an awards presentation following play at the home of the Minnesota Twins, Target Field.

The MLB Network is airing the RBI World Series on Monday.

There are 24 teams across three age divisions: Juniors (13-15), Seniors (16-18) and Softball (19-and-younger).

It's the 20th anniversary of the Bradenton RBI

program, which stands for Reviving Baseball in the Inner Cities and is co-sponsored by Major League Baseball.

Because of MLB's involvement, teams are associated with a MLB franchise. Bradenton's relationship is with the Pittsburgh Pirates, who make an annual trek to the Friendly City every March for spring training.

"Most of the teams that qualified, they are all run through a major-league program through a major-league city," Carnegie said. "We're fortunate here in Bradenton to have a charter and to participate in it."

Carnegie said Commissioner Bud Selig will be on hand as well as former ballplayers.

That adds to the perks of playing in the RBI World Series, which starts Wednesday with an opening ceremony followed by team workouts, lunch, a community service event and a pizza pool party.

The team is made up of the following players: Parker Liston, Tylon Williams, Christian Savigne, James Spurgeon, Austin Bingham, Deandre Sanders, Tyler Goff, Sixto Guerrero, Hakeem Rhodes, Connor Davis, Patrick McKenize, Gilbert Dodson, Peyton Hodge, Cooper Kicklighter and Tyler Winkelmeyer.

Al Cox, Dwayne Brown and Mark Davis coach the group. Repeat not to be

Suncoast Reebok, a 17-and-younger travel baseball team based out of Bradenton, fell short in its bid for back-to-back IBC/Nations Baseball World Series titles recently.

Suncoast swept through six games last summer in a tournament that culminated with the championship game at Pirate City in east Bradenton.

This year's event in St. Petersburg and Clearwater witnessed the club progressing to the final, before losing 6-4 to Team Sportsworx in the Premier Division's championship game.

Suncoast amassed a 2-1 pool play record, then stormed through four victories in the bracket portion of the tournament, outscoring its opponents 19-13 in those wins.

Despite losing the title game, a few Suncoast players were selected to the All-Tournament Team.

They include Blake Bunch, Forrest Wilson and Ryan Dyson.

Myles Straw was named the defensive player of the tournament.

Happy IMG campers

The third IMG Madden Football Academy mini-camp concluded on Sunday with more than 100 high school campers learning to improve their games under former NFL players such as Vinny Testaverde and Chris Weinke, IMG's football director.

Out-of-Door Academy quarterback Evan Wilson said on Friday that he was a little rusty getting back into the swing of things leading into the high school season, which begins August 6 with the first day of practice.

But by the end of Sunday, Wilson was the only area player included in the camp awards when he was chosen as the Offensive MVP.

Other awards were given to: Nathan Marcus (Glen Ellyn, Ill., tight end, Camp MVP); Richard Allen (New Orleans, corner back, Defensive MVP); Corey Martinez (Tampa, offensive lineman, Big Man Offensive MVP); Brad Smith (Tampa, defensive end, Big Man Defensive MVP), Jonathan Boone (Orlando, wide receiver, Breakout Offensive Prospect) and Brayden Beard (Fredricksburg, Texas, safety, Breakout Defensive Prospect).

The full All-Madden team is schedule for announcement in a couple weeks to allow for coaches to go over film from this weekend's events.

Jason Dill, sports reporter, can be reached at 745-7017 or via email at jdill@bradenton.com. Follow him on Twitter @Jason__Dill or on Facebook at Jason Dill Bradenton Herald.

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