By Rich Bevensee
After knocking on the door of a championship all summer, U.S. Elite Maryland State 2025 was finally able to breathe a sigh of relief in its final tournament of the season.
Actually, check that. That sigh of relief didn’t come until the final out of the final tournament of the summer.
After backing Dylan Abrahams’ four-inning, no-hit performance with a nine-run explosion in the third, U.S. Elite had to walk a tightrope before finalizing the deal, as Canes Tri-State sent the tying run to the plate twice in the final inning.
Only after reliever Wes Hall induced a fielder’s choice groundout to end the game could the Maryland-based squad celebrate a 9-6 victory and the Summer Bash 15U championship on Sunday evening at Diamond Nation in Flemington.
“I knew it was never over,” U.S. Elite coach Chad Hartman said. “I don’t think they had a hit until the last inning and then they put together a couple. They made a nice run at the end.”
U.S. Elite, a squad made up of players from Baltimore-area private schools comprising the hyper-competitive Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA), allowed just four runs en route to the final.
The Maryland-based outfit defeated Makina Baseball Academy, 10-0, Renegades 15U Oreste, 5-2, and Santos Baseball 15U Navy, 5-1, in pool play before knocking off Tri-State Arsenal Huzzy, 11-1, in the semifinals.
“It’s the end of our summer season and a perfect ending to it,” Hartman said. “All 13 of our guys contributed this week. All 13 guys stepped up. We pitched great, played great defense and got timely hits.”
Travis Peitz, a 6-1, 160-pound rising sophomore at Calvert Hall in Towson, Md., was named Most Valuable Player of the tournament. He pitched a tournament-opening, four-inning perfect game against Makina, played flawless defense at shortstop, belted a pair of triples in pool play and drove in a run in the final.
“It’s great, man, ending the summer with our first tournament win,” Peitz said. “It just came together when we needed it to come together. We got hot at the right time.”
Abrahams did not allow a single hit through the first four innings, he gave up four walks and struck out four while keeping his fastball in the mid-70s. The 5-10, 160-pound rising sophomore at Howard High in Ellicott City allowed two walks and three unearned runs in the first inning when his team committed two errors.
“I was struggling a bit in the first inning, to find my curveball especially, and then I just anchored down, got a feel for it, and I then was leaning on my curveball,” Abrahams said.
“I just have to accept that errors happen,” Abrahams said. “I can control what I can control, and I have to keep going and keep my trust in my teammates to back me up. I try to clear my mind and stay calm when things like that happen. Before I get on the mound I say forget about it, next pitch, go back and try to throw strikes.”
The Canes struck for three runs in the first inning when Jacob Herrera and Jeff Diaz walked and both scored on Jack Portman’s misplayed fly ball to center. Portman later scored on an infield error.
U.S. Elite put an end to any chirping from the Canes’ dugout in the top of the third when the Baltimore squad sent 13 men to the plate and scored nine runs on two hits, four walks, three hit batsmen and an error off three Canes pitchers.
Will Haacke (Calvert Hall) singled, Charlie Hartman (Severna Park) walked and Drew Jourdan (John Carroll) was hit by a pitch to load the bases, and Nic Stockson (John Carroll) walked to force a run.
That triggered an outburst not only from the dugout but from the lineup as well. Seth Rosenfeld (Long Reach) whacked a bases-clearing double to left to put U.S. Elite ahead, 4-3.
Cam Leach (John Carroll) was hit by a pitch, Jonah Obitz (Marriotts Ridge) walked and Hall (DeMatha) was hit by a pitch to force Rosenfeld home for a 5-3 lead. With the bases still loaded, Peitz walked to make it 6-3.
The final blow of the inning came off the bat of Bryce Bauer (Havre de Grace), whose towering fly ball to center was mishandled and that cleared the bases for a 9-3 lead for U.S. Elite.
The Canes’ lineup remained quiet until the bottom of the sixth inning when they registered their first base hit of the game, courtesy of No. 11 hitter Max Delgarde. Herrera walked and Diaz blasted a full-count, RBI double into left center. After Jack Portman was hit by a pitch, Blayze Conte slapped an RBI single, bringing the Canes within 9-5.
With the bases loaded and one out, Byron Arias came to the plate representing the tying run. He smashed a long fly which could have spelled trouble for U.S. Elite were it not for center fielder Haacke, who sped into the left center gap to track it down and hold the Canes to a single run, as Diaz tagged up from third.
With runners on first and third and two out, Jeremy Ramos was the second Canes batter to represent the tying run. Hall was able to induce a grounder and a force out at second to end the drama and cap U.S. Elite’s triumphant tournament run.
“This one felt really good,” Abrahams said. “We’ve been getting there, building wins. We’ve been to a couple championship games in other tournaments and just fell short. This week has been great. I think we just needed games under our belt. You get there (to the final) enough times, we have to get over the hump some time.”
“We’ll take a couple weeks off, and then everybody’s back, which is unique at this age,” Hartman said. “We have a tight-knit group of kids who enjoy playing together. I’m looking forward to getting back together this fall.”
10U Summer Bash Champs
Jersey Shore Elite (4-0) defeated East Coast Thunderbolts, 11-6, in the 10U Summer Bash championship game. Jersey Shore Elite outscored its opponents 51-33. East Coast Thunderbolts (2-2) were outscored by their opponents 47-45.