Diamond Notes: My Jupiter Experience

My Jupiter Experience

By: Greg Harrison-October 31, 2007


Last Thursday the Diamond Devils headed to Jupiter, Florida for the annual Fall Perfect Game World Wood Bat Tournament. We took the team vans (which I met at exit 8 on I-95) and were ready to play. After going last year I knew what to expect: some of the best high school baseball talent in the country, scouts wherever you look, a fourteen field spring training complex that is shared between the Cardinals and the Marlins, and RAIN. The team that ended up winning the tournament was the Braves Scout team, which had eight Aflac All-Americans on their team.

On Friday, we woke up at 5:30 a.m. for a game that was scheduled for 8:00. Even though it was early, everyone was excited to play. We were disappointed to get to the field and realize that it was unplayable due to rain. After going to lunch and hanging out in the hotel for a little while, we were told that our game had been rescheduled for 8:00 p.m. It was a long wait because I was anxious to get on the bump for the first game. We showed up to the complex in a light drizzle. The cages were too wet for BP, but we took soft toss and waited our turn to play. The game before us took longer than expected, so I started to warm up in the bullpen. When our team had just started throwing on the field, the rain had picked up and the umpires decided it was too wet, so we headed back to the hotel after Day 1 without even playing a game.

After the whole tournament schedule and pools had been changed, we walked all the way to the back of the complex to find our field covered in water. After an hour delay (and 28 hours after I was supposed to start) it was finally time to take the field against Southwest Florida Baseball, but we weren’t intimidated by their adjustable hats. I was on the mound and got some run support early with Dutch Fork infielder Troy Zawadzki’s two-out, two-RBI double. As the game went on, they put up two runs and it was 2-2 going into the sixth inning. With two outs and a man on second, USC commit Matt Price hit a bomb to left-center to put us up 4-2. That was enough, and we won by that score. We were pumped going into the next game at 6:00 p.m. against Hurricanes Baseball out of Virginia. Matt Price (Sumter HS) threw a 17-strikeout no-hitter as we won 1-0 in a pitcher’s duel. The only hit of the game came by Wando junior outfielder and USC commit Daniel Aldrich’s RBI-single. We ended the day 2-0 and in the driver’s seat of our pool, headed back to the hotel to play some poker and guitar hero.

On Sunday we showed up to the field with the surprising notion that even though we were 2-0, the St. Louis Pirates who had tied both of their games and with the point system, without a win we could end up not making the playoff bracket. After we had been hitting in the cage for a while, it started to rain once again. We put our bags under a tarp and, along with the rest of the complex, headed for shelter. It was overcrowded under the press box and tents so we found golf carts which had been deserted by the scouts and took cover from the rain.

After a short delay, we were on the field playing. Wando sophomore Drew Cisco pitched a great game with 10 K’s, but we were shutout 2-0. We had lost the game and came in second in our pool, but there was still a chance to make the cut as a wild card team. Coach John Rhodes went up to the press box to find out what would be in store for us. After waiting anxiously we saw him come back with a grin on his face and we knew that we were in as a wild card.

The first game of the elimination round didn’t go as we would’ve hoped, as we lost due to walks and errors so we packed it up and went back to the hotel disappointed.  I left that night and drove back to Hilton Head arriving at 3 a.m. for school that morning.

Even though we were disappointed in the finish to our tournament, Jupiter was still my favorite tournament all year. The talent and competition gives you a feeling of what baseball is like at the next level. Seeing all the great players makes you come home wanting to work hard so you can get yourself to that level. The atmosphere is one that you rarely see at the high school level, with golf carts of scouts lined up against the fence looking at the gun to see what the future prospects can do. I was just as impressed my second time at the tournament as I was my first.

About the author: Hilton Head’s Greg Harrison is a junior right-handed pitcher/third baseman who was rated in June as Diamond Prospects’ #1 player in the Class of 2009. He recently gave a verbal commitment to South Carolina.