Key West completes era with championship sweep
August 11, 2017
In their season-ending tournament the Key West U13 – Sun Caps finished in grand style with a first-place finish in the Grand Bahama Power Company fifth annual Bahamas Sports Festival Youth Baseball Tournament last weekend in Freeport, Bahamas.
Key West went 4-0 over the four days of play to bring home the top hardware. In the championship game, Key West topped the West Palm Beach Young Guns by a decisive margin.
It was the final time coach Peter Fraga and his son Bryce will be part of the Key West baseball family. The Fragas relocated to Tampa in June for new adventures.
“It was bittersweet leaving the friends and family of Key West especially the baseball family we’ve developed over the last five or six year with the Sun Caps. A lot of those were classmates of mine and longtime friends so it was difficult to leave,” said Fraga on Thursday afternoon from Tampa. “We’re excited about our new journey here in Tampa, but we’re sad to leave our friends. The travel for baseball from Key West to Broward County, driving eight hours for a doubleheader, wears on you. This will give our kids more opportunities up here.”
Coach Brent Bishop said the three teams they played all had talent, but it was Key West’s speed on the bases that propelled them to victory.
“The Young Gun team was pretty good. It was just our capability to run. We were able to steal a lot of bases the whole weekend. It was a good part of our game plan and we were successful with it,” said Bishop. “We were constantly in scoring position.
“The Bahamian team had great arms. They have some athletes. Their catcher had a gun,” he added. “He would have thrown us out a few times, but his control was a little off.”
Bishop said Cooper City was a good, older group, but they were trying to save their pitching for the third game.
“We handed it to them. Their coach was thinking they’d win the next game to take them to the championship game, but it didn’t happen for them,” said Bishop.
Bishop said the Young Guns just ran out of pitching.
“They had their ace saved, but we knocked him out in the first inning of the championship game,” said the coach. “They had nothing left. They burned up all their pitching in the other games.”
KEY WEST 9, WEST PALM BEACH YOUNG GUNS 4
Key West took advantage of 10 walks by opposing pitchers for the opening win. Tom Besson drove in three runs on a pair of base hits, Ja’Khai Blake also singled twice for an RBI as Riley Hansen slugged a run-scoring single. Payton Knapp and Kai Smith each walked twice and with bases on ball each was Aiden Vernetti, Jason Yarbrough, Nathan Barroso and Michael Cates.
On the mound, Besson fanned seven, allowed two hits, three walks and reliever Brent Bishop struck out three and yielded four walks and two hits.
Knapp stole four bases and with one each was Yarbrough, Blake and Besson.
KEY WEST 10,
GRAND BAHAMAS 1
Six stolen bases helped Key West achieve a win over the host team. Payton Knapp and Aiden Vernetti each swiped a pair of bags and with one apiece were Bryce Fraga and Tom Besson.
Besson cleared the bags with a three-run triple and Knapp also thumped a run-scoring three-base hit. Jason Yarbrough slugged a run-scoring double and with base hits were Preston Herce and Ja’Khai Blake.
Blake started on the mound, allowed three walks and fanned thee. Yarbrough tossed the next two frames followed by Knapp who sat two on Ks.
KEY WEST 12,
COOPER CITY 2
Leadoff hitter Preston Herce broke out of his slump for a pair of three-base hits and Jason Yarbrough tripled home three runs for Key West. Ja’Khai Blake singled two times and Brent Bishop, Aiden Vernetti and Kai Smith each had a run-scoring base hit.
Michael Cates, Nathan Barroso, Bryce Fraga and Tom Besson each drew a walk.
On the bags, Blake and Besson each had a pair of stolen bases and Knapp, Vernetti and Barroso each swiped base.
Knapp hurled the first two frames, allowed a hit and had three Ks and Blake tossed the final four in relief for one hit and a run with a pair of strikeouts.
KEY WEST 20,
WEST PALM BEACH YOUNG GUNS 1
Key West pounded Young Guns pitching for 15 base hits. Utilized 11 walks and did not strike out once in the finale.
Tom Besson pitched a one-hit gem for Key West with nine strikeouts and no free passes on walks.
On offense, Aiden Vernetti and Ja’Khai Blake each drove in four runs on two hits as Blake doubled, Bryce Fraga and Jason Yarbrough each ripped two base hits for two RBI, Nathan Barroso singled home two runs, Brent Bishop, Kai Smith and Riley Hansen each nailed a run-scoring single as Preston Herce, Tom Besson, Payton Knapp each had a base hit.
With two stolen bases each was Besson, Herce and Riley Hansen, who had two walks to get on the bags.