By: Austin Alexander - August 8-9, 2015
-Southwest claims first title on picturesque weekend-
This past weekend was a terrific celebration of high school baseball in South Carolina, again! Well over 100 college coaches and scouts, along with our state's top talent, flocked to USC's lavish stadium on Saturday for Opening Day of the 8th Annual Palmetto Games. With the Gamecocks National Championship reminders around the yard, it served as the perfect backdrop for our all-star event!
As always, the format had a championship flavor pitting players against each other that hail from their geographic region. In the past we have made this a three day affair, in 2013 we made the move to a two day appproach with the schedule calling for batting practice on the field, along with pre-game infield/outfield, and 60's on Saturday.
It has become a running joke with coaches and scouts that Mother Nature is not a Palmetto Games fan, as we are accustomed to every sort of weather and delay imaginable over the years. In a year when rain has derailed its share of baseball games, optomism was actually high for the first time in history when the forecast's 0% chance of rain became encouraging. This Saturday marked the first time that the tarp stayed in it's cover and all six teams were able to hit on the field! The skies remained clear and allowed us to execute our gameplan, thus setting the stage for some quality baseball!
Each team was able to participate in their post-game ceremony at home plate with awards being handed out for: Golden Arm, Silver Slugger, Gold Glove and Charlie Hustle Awards.
The Southwest (2-0) team edged the Midwest (2-0) squad in a tie-breaker at the 2015 Palmetto Games to claim their first title, breaking the Mideast's two-year reign. Head Coach Banks Faulkner of Summerville High School guided a group of talent that outscored the competition 13-8. It should be noted that the Midwest club, coached by White Knoll's Charles Assey, also ran the table but fell short in the run differential category by two runs.
Taking our top awards during the weekend were James Island's Parker Bass (Most Outstanding Player) along with Hartsville's Andrew Coker (Most Outstanding Pitcher).
Quick Notes: A total of 39 different pitchers worked at 85+ MPH, nine in the upper-80's, nine more hitting the magic number 90 or better, led by Summerville's Sawyer Bridges taking top honors with a 93 MPH bolt... Twelve runners shot through the finish line at 7.0 seconds or less, atop that list was Nation Ford's Alex Stennett at 6.72... The first "walk-off homer" was hit by Parker Bass and become the eventual title-clinching swing for the SW club...Another first was that a foul ball actually rolled off of the Carolina Stadium roof, choosing not to join the hundreds of other strikes that sat in the gutter!
Our staff has diligently worked to compile every angle of information from the event...Enjoy!
Moving Moment: If you were present at Carolina Stadium at the conclusion of Game 2 on Sunday, then you were blessed enough to witness our very special awards ceremony. DP was honored to have a guest presenter handing out the plaques, but not before Peyton Judkins got a round of applause from everyone in the ballpark! Following his ovation, Peyton passionately passed out the awards and hugged each player too. This was one of the most memorable moments in Palmetto Games history!
And the Scouting Award goes to... Even though he did not lobby for this esteemed honor at all, DP has chosen to name Atlanta Braves super scout Billy Best the 2015 Palmetto Games Scout of the Year. Their is no criteria for this award. It comes with zero fanfare, perks or pay raises. It's really not even a big deal whatsoever but this individual did alert each of us - meaning the whole ballpark - as to any reduction of prices in hot dogs while encouraging all patrons to run the bases and find AA if there were any complaints, among other things. This guru enjoyed his Bob Uecker V.I.P. seat for the entirely of the event and can now add this phony award to his illustrious resume!
The 2015 Palmetto Games saw a wealth of talent with a handsome number of scouts in attendance again, thus making this weekend another successful event! But we could not have pulled off the feat without a ton of help.
The DP staff would like to send out a giant fist-bump to the following:
Sleep Inn on Bush River Rd, CrazyBaseball.com, Rawlings, LDH Sports, All-American Imaging along with the many coaches and scouts that stuck around all all weekend... Last but not least, the University of South Carolina, Chad Holbrook, his entire coaching staff and the assembled support staff that handled every request in stride, just as they always do. Thank you to all for your support of prep hardball in South Carolina!