Locals Help Stars, 3 Canes Teams Advance to Bracket Play at Perfect Game 15U Nationals

July 17 - Nicholas Morabito and Mason Balsis paced Marucci Stars Colangelo as the team won its pool and advanced to bracket play at the Perfect Game WWBA 15U National Championship. 

Stars Colangelo (6-1) was joined by three EvoShield Canes teams carrying area players in winning one of the wood bat tournament’s 39 pools. The Stars (6-1) and Canes North (5-1-1) will play in the opening round tonight at 8:45 p.m. The Canes National (7-0) earned the top seed and will play at 10 a.m. tomorrow, and the Canes Central (6-0-1) also earned a bye and will play tomorrow at 12:15 p.m.

The next three rounds will be held tomorrow, with the semifinals and championship game held on Friday at the LakePoint facility in Cartersville, GA. 

Morabito, an uncommitted middle infielder who resides in McLean and attends Gonzaga (D.C.), filled up the stat sheet over the seven pool play games - hitting .500 (9-for-18) with a .609 on-base percentage, eight runs, five RBI and nine steals. Balsis, a catcher and outfielder from Osbourn Park who has committed to the University of Virginia, hit .421 (8-for-19) with two doubles, six RBI and four steals. 

Jason Cheifetz (Westfield) went the distance in yesterday’s 4-3 win over Florida Burn 2022 Orlosky, allowing three runs (one earned) on seven hits. 

Carson Carroll took the reigns midway through pool play after Mike Colangelo had to depart due to another commitment. Carroll, the Northern Virginia-based travel program’s founder, has skippered several teams to bracket play at the annual event. 

“Our success and ability to make a run will depend on pitchers throwing strikes, quality at-bats and applying pressure on the bases,” Carroll said earlier this evening.

A.J. Shepard (Osbourn Park) and James Triantos (St. John’s), a resident of McLean, swung hot bats for unbeaten Canes National. Shepard, an Indiana recruit, hit .438 (7-for-16) with two doubles, two home runs and six RBI while Triantos, a North Carolina commit, hit .389 (7-for-18) with a double, homer and five RBI. The team’s third local player, Virginia recruit Bradley Gagen (Paul VI Catholic), earned the win after limiting Georgia’s Game On Vipers to two hits in three scoreless innings in a 7-0 win on Monday.

Among the Canes North’s top hitters in pool play was Cal Henderson (Freedom-South Riding), who hit .375 (6-for-16) with five runs and five RBI. Aidan McDonald (Paul VI Catholic) made three appearances, allowing just one run on three hits in 7.1 innings. The team has eight players from Northern Virginia schools on its roster, the most of any Canes team.

Canes Central, meanwhile, had two area players - Eli Serrano (Patriot) and Blain Simonich (Dominion) - among its top hitters in pool play. Serrano hit .429 (6-for-14) with a double, triple and three RBI and Simonich hit .412 (7-for-17) with three doubles, a triple and six RBI.

Photos of, clockwise from left, Nicholas Morabito and Mason Balsis by Bethany Balsis and Bradley Gagen and Eli Serrano courtesy of EvoShield Canes