The first two games for the Manatee 10U All-Stars at the Cal Ripken World Series in Jonesboro, Ark., were virtually flawless. On the mound, Manatee's pitchers dazzled with a pair of shutouts. At the plate, the batters assaulted opposing pitchers with a parade of home runs, including a World Series record in the second game.
"It was a great start and the second win came against a really strong California team with a really good pitcher," Manatee 10U manager Donnie Ganong said. "We just jumped all over him."
For the second straight game, the Manatee All-Star's bombardment against California's Visalia 10U All-Stars, the Pacific Southwest champion, began with a leadoff homer from Ryan Combs. Later in the game, Combs blasted another to give him three home runs in the World Series' first two games.
Stone Russell, Jud Hildreth and Ryan Gargett also launched home runs for Manatee, setting a new World Series record for a single game with five on the way to a 10-run victory. Gargett also fired a one-hit shutout for Manatee.
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"The guys are really swinging the bats right now," Ganong said, "so it's been a good team effort."
Gargett's gem was a worthy follow-up to Man
atee's shutout win the Mountain Home 10U All-Stars, the champions from Arkansas. Jaden Stockton gave Manatee a strong start to the tournament and the bats supported him with 10 runs to start the tournament as hot as any other team in Jonesboroo.
Manatee added a 4-3 win against the Kennewick 10U All-Stars from Washington, the Pacific Northwest champion, on Monday to reach pool play. Manatee is off Tuesday and will play the final two teams in the group Wednesday. The top three teams in each pool advance into a single-elimination bracket with the top team from each group earning a bye.
"We're obviously in a good position," Ganong said, "but at this point we can't think too much about what we've already done."
Tampa Mustangs win PGF national championship
Despite losing their first game, the Lakewood Ranch-based Tampa Mustangs 16U team rallied to win 12 straight games and win the Premier Girls Fastpitch National Championship in Irvine, Calif.
Each of the Mustangs final four games were decided by one run and in the championship Braden River High School's Kinsey Goelz drove in the only run of a 1-0 win.
Goelz, whose father T.J. Goelz is Tampa's manager, is one of four Braden River players on the team. Kylie Toler, Myah Moy and Bethany Keen are the others. Lakewood Ranch High School also had four players with Logan Newton, Kyra Klawkowski, Kaylee Misti and Maddie Briggs.
Bay City Ballers finish 3rd in final tournament
Before this year, the Bay City Ballers were almost exclusively composed of players from Sarasota. That changed when the Ballers recruited four players from Bradenton Christian School to go along with a handful of Manatee High School players for the team's final summer.
The final summer concluded two weeks ago when Bay City finished third in the 17U AAU National Division 2 tournament in Louisville, Ky.
The Ballers earned a first-round bye with a successful run through pool play before toppling the Kentucky Heat and eking out a two-point win against Arkansas's Wings Elite to reach the semifinals. Bay City stumbled against Chicago Team NLP before nabbing third place with a 74-68 win against Kentucky Select.
David Wilson, Herald sports writer, can be reached at 941-745-7057. Follow him on Twitter @DBWilson2.