Blacksburg's NABF High School Team Qualifies for 2008 World Series

Last week, Blacksburg High School baseball players competed in the National Amateur Baseball Federation World Series. As an interesting side note, the NABF uses only wood bats. The Blacksburg Bruins participated in a divisional league comprised of teams from Blacksburg, North Roanoke, Cave Spring, Hidden Valley, Franklin County, Staunton River, Giles, Roanoke, and William Byrd.

Blacksburg finished the regular season with a record of 10-3, and was one of 32 teams from around the country and Canada that qualified for the 2008 NABF High School World Series Tournament. The tournament was held July 24-27, in Lynchburg, Virginia, at the Hillcats Stadium. Several initial rounds were held at nearby college stadiums, and high school fields.

Each team that Blacksburg played against consisted of players selected from a number of high schools. However the Virginia NABF Directors and bylaws mandate that teams must be school-based. Despite this disadvantage, Blacksburg competed well, advancing a couple of rounds and making it to the third day, before being eliminated with a final record of 2-4.

Blacksburg's two wins were against the Long Island Titans (a team from Suffolk County, New York) by a score of 3-0, and against the Satchel Paige All Stars (a team from Chicago), 6-4. Blacksburg lost to the Long Island Junior Ducks (a team from Nassau County, New York), by a score of 4-2, the New Jersey Hitmen (northern New Jersey), 2-1, and twice to the New York 9 (from the Bronx and northern Manhattan), by scores of 6-1 and 13-4.

Cody Huff gave up only 3 scattered hits, and struck out 5 while walking 6 in the tough 2-1 loss to the Hitmen. Ricky Sowers threw a no-hitter for 6 and two-third innings before surrendering the only hit, a single, to the Long Island Titans. Sowers finished the 3-0 win. Huff and Nick Sburlati combined to hold the Satchel Paige All-Stars to a 6-hit game in the 6-4 win for Blacksburg. Hit leaders for Blacksburg were Trevor Bennett, Vinny Oddo, Michael Simonetti, and Ricky Sowers, each with 3 hits against the strong tournament pitching. Steven Ball had 2 hits in 10 official at-bats, and drew a team-leading 8 walks for an on-base percentage of .500. Owen Ball was 1-2 with a walk.

Simonetti had 18 assists at 2B during the tournament, with no errors. Oddo notched 11 outfield putouts in the tournament. Adam Brauns and Curtis Galbraith contributed with solid outfield play, and running snags on deep drives in left and right field during the win over the Satchel Paige All-Stars. Justin Bishop had 4 assists and 3 putouts at SS to keep alive the 1-hit pitching performance by Sowers against the Titans. In what was probably the defensive gem of the tournament, Steven Ball corralled a drag bunt between the pitcher's mound and first base, tagged the diving Hitmen batter at first, and wheeled to throw a bullet to home, where Bennett blocked the plate and tagged out a sliding runner, keeping the Bruins in the close game during the seventh inning against the New Jersey team.

World Series team photo.
Front row, left to right: Ricky Sowers, Vinny Oddo, Doug Mullendore, Michael Simonetti, Curtis Galbraith, Owen Ball, Danny Osimani.
Back row, left to right: Head Coach Scott Siburt, Justin Bishop, Trevor Bennett, Adam Brauns, Nick Sburlati, Steven Ball, Cody Huff, Coach Ricky Sowers.
Not present at the time of the picture: David Bales.

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