Piedmonters play in Cooperstown

(L-r): Coach CJ Jackson, Isaiah Downs, Theo Klein, Preston Baenen, Clemons Conrad, Jack Dahling, Will Ewing, Anand Christensen, Jacob Fendel, Johnny Smuelwitz, Ben McMurtry, Kingston James, Adan Stewart, Aidan Shartsis, Coach Nate Osborne Not pictured: Angelo Brown, Quinn Meyer, Johnny Ellington, Dylan Toyama

The Future Star Baseball (FSB) team represented Oakland and Piedmont at the Cooperstown Dreams Park tournament from August5-7. The tournament is only for 12U players and brings in teams from all over the country to create a fun, inclusive and also competitive atmosphere. Fences are only 200 feet, and home runs are much more frequent than in league or regular travel team play. 

FSB went undefeated in five games of pool play, earning the 15th seed out of 96 teams. They hit 14 home runs in those five games, including homers by Ben McMurtry and Aidan Shartsis from Piedmont. Anand Christensen from Oakland led the team with four home runs, including two in their 23-2 victory over Zimmerman Thunder from Minnesota, racking up 14 RBIs on the tournament.

Piedmont’s Ben McMurtry (7) finishes his home run trot

Weather was a factor in the closest game, the last pool play game against the Falls Church Copperheads from Virginia, which started around 9:30pm due to earlier rain. Both teams started the game 4-0, having bested opponents by similar and generally double-digit margins while allowing few runs. FSB had the disadvantage of being the visitors. 

Piedmont’s Dylan Toyama pitching in Cooperstown

Kingston James led off the scoring in the top of the 1st inning with a line drive to center field that scored Johnny Ellington from 3rd. The Copperheads answered in the bottom of the inning, taking a 2-1 lead after a dropped third strike and two singles. 

Kingston James hits one out

Isaiah Downs, who started for FSB, held the Copperheads scoreless from that point until a solo home run made it a 3-1 ballgame in the bottom of the 4th inning. Then in the top of the 5th, FSB roared back with three singles in a row to lead off the inning. When the dust settled they took the field, having flipped the game with a 6-3 lead. 

Piedmont’s Clemons Conrad singles to center

In the 4th inning, Preston Baenen came in to relieve Downs. A strange fog rolled in during the Copperheads at bat in the 5th inning. The fog was so thick the outfielders couldn’t see home plate, but the umpires didn’t pause the action. FSB managed to get out of the inning only giving up one run, even though fielders broke the wrong way on multiple balls because they couldn’t see anything. Nobody knows how Johnny Smuelwitz saw the pop up he caught; Baenen struck the other two out. By the time FSB batted, the fog cleared out and FSB scored four more in the top of the 6th inning. 

Piedmont’s Aidan Shartsis rounds second after a home run

Things got interesting in the bottom of the sixth. With two outs, the Copperheads rallied to score 2 and load the bases, putting the winning run at bat with short fences. FSB head coach CJ Jackson put in lefty Kingston James to get the last out. James struck out the Copperheads’ cleanup batter, securing the 15th seed.

Anand Christensen hits the dust off the ball

FSB ultimately lost in the round of 32 teams to Hits Indoor Baseball Elite of Kentucky, a showcase team that recruited players from all over the country. Hits took a commanding 6-0 lead by the 2nd inning, but FSB answered with five in the bottom of the 5th. Hits’ reliever then held FSB scoreless the rest of the game while they racked up more runs. Dylan Toyama from Piedmont pitched two innings in that game in relief. Clemons Conrad, Jack Dahling, and Aidan Stewart also represented Piedmont on FSB throughout the tournament. 

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