BILA 18-U Baseball win Texas Roadhouse Fall Tournament

Ball is Life Athletics 18-U team after winning fall tournament.

TENNERTON — Head Coach Jacob Atkins’ Ball is Life Athletics (BILA) 18-under travel baseball team, based out of Buckhannon, boats a roster consisting of mainly boys from Upshur County, but also features a blend of players from surrounding counties including: Marion, Monongahela, Randolph, Lewis and Barbour counties. This exciting combination of talent across North Centeal West Virginia showed their true team potential this past weekend, winning the two-day Texas Roadhouse Fall Tournament title in Bridgeport. Leaving Bridgeport with bragging rights was no small feat, but coach Atkins’ and his staff consisting of assistants Johnny Seggie, Derek Loftis, Paul Gonzalez and Aaron Whiteman had to guide their team through tough challenges from opposing travel teams representing both Bridgeport and East Fairmont throughout the course of two doubleheaders in as many days.  

The Athletics got things started on Saturday, September 24 with their first of two games on the day against the East Fairmont Outsiders. Ultimately, the Athletics outlasted the Outsiders in a tightly contested, high-scoring affair, pulling out a narrow 8 to 7 win in the end. Through two innings of play, the Outsiders held a 3 to 1 lead, however the Athletics responded with five runs in the third inning.  The Athletics took advantage of a few careless mistakes by their opponents, as Albert Gonzales was hit by a pitch, driving in a run, Grant Mealey was struck by a pitch, driving in a run and a later error scored three runs, totally flipping the game’s script up to that point. While the Outsiders mounted a valiant rally in both the fifth and seventh innings, the Athletics came up with an answer each time shutting the door on any potential comeback. Grant Mealey picked up the win on the mound in game one for the Athletics, lasting five innings, allowing six hits and five runs while striking out two. A duo of Noah Fields and Ryder Aman each collected a hit apiece to lead the way offensively for the Athletics against the Outsiders. 

In their second game on Saturday against Bridgeport’s W.Va. Patriots, it seemed as if their hard-fought win in their previous game against the Outsiders took its toll as the they couldn’t muster the energy to overcome an early four run deficit against a tough Patriots team, ultimately dropping a close game by a final score of 5 to 4 despite their resilient rally. The Athletics scored three runs in the failed fifth inning comeback, with Duke Seggie and Nick Gonzales leading the charge by driving in runs in the frame. Grant Mealey also had it flowing offensively, going a perfect two-for-two at the plate to lead the Athletics in hits in their loss to the Patriots. Josh Nesbitt got the starting nod for the Athletics on the mound in the loss, with Albert Gonzales throwing four innings in relief. 

Tournament play resumed the next day on Sunday, September 25, as the Athletics began with a rematch with the Outsiders. The Athletics coasted to a dominate 6 to 2 win over the outsiders, setting the stage for a redemption game against Bridgeport’s W.Va. Patriots later that day.  

The Athletics wasted no time seizing control of the game against the Outsiders, building an early lead as they scored on a huge triple by Albert Gonzales and a sacrifice fly by Grant Mealey in the opening frame. Ethan Dorkins earned the victory on the hill for Athletics in their rematch with the Outsiders, with the hurler lasting a full seven innings, only allowing two hits and two runs, while striking out five. Brayen Hamer led the way offensively for the Athletics, racking up a team-high two hits.  

The Texas Roadhouse Fall Tournament championship game between the Buckhannon’s BILA Athletics and Bridgeport’s W.Va. Patriots started off slow, but slowly intensified to epic proportions. The Athletics held a slight 2 to 1 advantage heading into the fifth inning. In the top of the fifth, the Athletics seized control of the game, scoring three runs in the frame, as Albert Gonzales, Mealey and Ethan Dorkins all moved runners across the plate with RBIs in the inning. After the Patriots couldn’t find an answer in the bottom of the fifth, Athletics run continued into the sixth inning, as they added two more scores to their total, extending the lead to 7 to 1. The Patriots then proceeded to mount a furious rally over the course of the final two innings, nearly erasing a six run lead, however the Athletics held off the run with just enough offense of their own to escape with the 8 to 7 victory and the Texas Roadhouse Fall Tournament championship.  

Hamer got the start for the Athletics in the championship game, with the fireballer surrendering five runs on five hits over five and a third innings, striking out three against a very challenging foe. Hamer’s championship level effort on the mound was complemented by the Athletics sure-handed supporting staff, who didn’t commit a single error all game long. 

Offensively, it was a total team effort for the Athletics in the championship game, as they collectively amassed 11 total hits.  Ethan Dorkins, Noah Fields and Mealey each collected two hits apiece to tie for the team lead.   

Coach Atkins was very proud of his team, yet humble in victory praising the performance of both teams, saying, 

“Our boys fought well, after Bridgeport beat us Saturday in pool play; we were ready for a tough championship game. Kudos to the Bridgeport head coach Frank Blake. He has a great squad and very good coaches; these boys are something special cannot wait to grow and build off of this season!”

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