For The Signal
In its first tournament as a team, Storm Elite baseball landed third place and a bronze medal at the USA Baseball 17U West Championships over the week of June 15-22. The team hit the road for the tournament hosted at various Major League Baseball spring training ballparks in Peoria, Glendale, Goodyear, & Surprise, Arizona. With 96 teams entered, Storm Elite rose to the top with a record of 7-2 on the week.
A few familiar faces populate the Storm Elite travel ball team from various Foothill League high schools. Once league play is over, the ballplayers transform from competitors to teammates, forming a travel team to compete in tournaments over the summer season. Saugus’ assistant baseball coach turned head coach of Storm Elite and former MLB player, Randy Kutcher, helped to steer the team to success.
Saugus is represented by Bobby Garcia, Nolan Kutcher, Davis Brown and Anthony Ramirez. David Holuby and Massimo Vega came to play from Hart, Garret Monheim from West Ranch and Davis Cop from Valencia. The team also consisted of City Section MVP Johnny Titchner from Birmingham High School and Joey Estes, Gold Coast League’s pitcher of the year from Paraclete High School.
“We had 10-15 scouts at each game. It was amazing. The Junior Olympic experience is more intense and brings out the best of the best,” Nolan said.
Starting on Saturday, Storm Elite dropped its first contest against the CBA Bulldogs but fought back to defeat GBG Marucci Blue 9-0 in the afternoon game. The next two games proved to be slightly more difficult for the squad. Storm Elite beat the Mountain West by a slim score of 3-2 on Sunday and took down CBA Marucci American on Monday, 4-3.
After a day off from the Arizona heat, Storm Elite returned to the diamond on Wednesday for a couple blowout wins against the Nevada Road Dogs and GBG Texas, 11-2 and 13-4, respectively. The team split its games on Thursday with a win against Zoots Baseball, 9-2 and a loss to the San Diego Show.
“In the GBG Texas game, Holuby came up big and hit a three-run home run to win the game. That was probably the best moment as a team,” Nolan said.
The final game of the tournament was the easiest of them all, taking a forfeit from Gunderson to lock in third place and the bronze medal.
“Overall though, playing with these guys for the first time and beating teams that have been together for a really long time was super cool,” Garcia said.