October 22 - Patriot’s Riley Eikhoff, Riverside’s Sajon Belser, Battlefield’s Zach Agnos and Madison’s Matt Howat shined last week at the nation’s premier annual travel and showcase event, the Perfect Game WWBA World Championship in Jupiter, FL.
Eikhoff, a junior right-hander and infielder committed to the University of Virginia, pitched a two-hit shutout and had his fastball reach 90 MPH in a 2-0 win over the Ohio Warhawks/643 DP Cougars on Saturday. He fanned five, allowed just three over the minimum and allowed just two runners to pass second base - none after the third inning - against a lineup that boasted nine Division I commits, including Tucker Mitchell, a catcher who transferred last year from Flint Hill to IMG Academy in Florida and has committed to play at Florida Atlantic.
Belser, an outfielder committed to the College of Charleston, went 4-for-10 while guest playing with Oregon’s Baseball Northwest National. He went 1-for-2 with two walks against the Richmond Braves, drawing walks from two area hurlers, Jake Berry (Bishop O’Connell) and Michael Tolson (Stafford).
“Jupiter was a great environment with high competition, every arm I faced was a D1 if not pro arm,” Belser said. “Playing in front of all the scouts was fun. It’s what you work hard for, to compete at a high level and face the best.”
Agnos reached base in three of his seven plate appearances, singling twice and drawing a walk, and struck out four while allowing one run on one hit and one walk as a guest player with Florida’s Padres Scout Team/Chandler World. The East Carolina University recruit had his fastball reach 89 MPH in his lone outing on Thursday against New Jersey’s Tri-State Arsenal FC, and his four strikeouts came against hitters committed to North Carolina, St. John’s, Virginia Tech and Texas Tech.
Howat, one of Northern Virginia’s top remaining uncommitted Class of 2019 pitchers guest playing for the Richmond Braves, was dominant in his lone outing, two innings of relief against Georgia’s Braves Scout Team/Team Elite. The 6-foot-2 lefty struck out the side in his first inning, then after inducing a fly out, fanned the final two batters he faced. Four of the batters Howat struck out are committed to play at Kentucky, Michigan, South Carolina and Mississippi State.
“The opportunity to play [in Jupiter] must be taken by any player with aspirations to go to the next level and beyond,” said Agnos, a member of the magazine’s 2018 NOVA Nine Team who will follow his older brother, Jake, at ECU. “The competition down there is ridiculous, everyone can hit the ball 400 feet and every pitcher can throw 88 MPH with a great curveball. Playing in front of the scouts was a great experience, a chance to put your name in the back of their minds.”
Added Howat: “The opportunity to go down with a solid Richmond Braves team was something I am very thankful for. My favorite part of going down to Jupiter was the competition: there aren’t many places you can go and face a team with 24 D1 players on their roster. Having the ability to go out and test yourself against some of the best high schoolers in the country is a great experience.”
Howat, Berry and Tolson were joined with the Braves for the tournament by Lyle Miller-Green (Lake Braddock), a right-hander and first baseman committed to George Mason. The 6-foot-5, 225-pound Miller-Green was 2-for-7 at the plate and in his lone outing he struck out four and didn’t allow a hit while having his fastball reach 88 MPH. He was charged with two runs in 2.2 innings after surrendering three walks against Georgia’s Home Plate Chili Dogs Searcy.
“Every time I arrived at the field, I felt that certain level of intensity knowing that I was about to face great talent from all across the country,” Miller-Green said. “The coolest part, in my opinion, was the amount of golf carts there with pretty much every one driven by a college or pro scout.”
Bishop O’Connell junior right-hander William Pickford traveled with New Jersey-based Team Northeast and had his fastball reach 90 MPH in his outing against Team Indiana, allowing one run on two hits over three innings. Lucas Donlon, a McLean resident who attends Maryland’s Georgetown Prep, also played at the event. The Virginia Tech recruit went 3-for-12 with a double and four RBI over four games with EvoShield Canes American.
Belser is a member of the Diamond Elite travel program, and Agnos, Miller-Green and Howat are members of the Marucci Stars. Neither qualified for this year’s 88-team tournament, which led to them guest playing for other clubs. Participating teams were divided into 22 pools of four teams, with pool winners and 10 wild cards advancing to bracket play in front of dozens of college and Major League Baseball coaches and scouts. Florida Burn Platinum, which carried a 29-man roster for the tournament, beat the EvoShield Canes National, 2-0, earlier today in the tournament’s championship game.
“The biggest thing I can take home [from playing in the world championship] is knowing I became a better player from facing really good, competitive teams,” Miller-Green said. “It was by far the most fun I’ve had playing in a tournament.”
Photos of Sajon Belser courtesy of Riverside Baseball, of Riley Eikhoff courtesy of Eikhoff family, of Zach Agnos by Tom Watts and of Matt Howat courtesy of Richmond Braves