A team of Europe-based high school baseball players will open its run at the Colt League World Series in Lafayette, Ind., late Saturday night (Central European Time) knowing that they already have held their own against some of the nation’s best.
Coached by Larry Tannenbaum of Stuttgart and Frank Acosta of Kaiserslautern, the team, known as the CASE (Competitive Athletic Sports Europe) Eurostars, is coming off a fourth-place finish at the AAU Underclassmen Baseball National Championships which ended last Sunday in Fort Myers, Fla.
The Eurostars, who are calling themselves the Ambassadors Baseball Club this week, feature 10 All-Europeans on their roster. They open their World Series run at 11 p.m. Saturday CET against the Colt League’s North Zone champions from Steger, Ill.
Patch High School stars Andrew Buxkemper, C.J. Kellogg and Trevin Stein supplement the team’s 10 All-Europeans – Dylan Measells, Jack Smith and Ryan Tannenbaum from Patch; Dustin Labit and Justin Pendergrass from Ramstein; Ian Acosta and Aaren Blossom from Kaiserslautern; Matt Flood and Austin Schmidt from Bitburg, and Alex Weaver from Heidelberg. All 12 played prominent roles as the Eurostars amassed 7-3 record in pool and bracket play in the AAU event in Florida.
According to parent Robert Weaver, the Eurostars allowed themselves room to demonstrate the resiliency they would ride to their eventual fourth-place finish by dropping their opening pool-play game 11-0 to the Gators of Florida on July 26. They rebounded from that loss to down Massachusetts AAU champion South Shore 7-3 and the Palmetto Baseball Club of South Carolina 15-6 to advance to a second pool.
Once again, the Eurostars lost their opener, this time 3-1 to the same South Shore club they’d beaten earlier. However, the Eurostars won their next two games, 12-9 over Team United and 7-3 over the Royals, both from Jacksonville, Fla. The victories advanced the Eurostars to the tourney’s single-elimination phase, where a third straight opening loss would bounce them from the tourney.
The Eurostars appeared poised to do just that when they fell behind the Northeast Hurricanes of Nebraska 7-0 after two innings. But according to Robert Weaver, the Eurostars struck for two runs each in the third and fourth innings and tied game 8-8 in the sixth to force extra innings. They won 9-8 in eight innings.
The Eurostars, who were voted the tourney’s sportsmanship award by the other players and coaches, then claimed the rubber game against South Shore, 8-2, to reach the tourney semifinals. There, they fell 6-3 to perennial youth baseball power East Cobb of Georgia. According to Robert Weaver, the Eurostars, who trailed the eventual tourney champs 5-0 in the early going, put the tying runs on base in their last at-bat and scored the most runs any team managed against East Cobb.
To follow the team’s progress this week on the web, go to www.pony.org and click on the Colt League World Series link.