Prep Baseball Report

Louisiana Knights Claim Under Armour Classic Title With Shutout Victory

By Sean Duncan
Executive Director

BRADENTON, FL - The Louisiana Knights finished their impressive run through the inaugural Under Armour Classic on Sunday with a hard-fought 1-0 victory over MSI-Bubba Baseball in the championship game at IMG Academy.

The Knights, who finished 4-1 at the 12-team loaded event, began their run to the title on Friday with a big win over the Elite Squad. It concluded with a well-played shutout of a hard-hitting MSI club.

Three pitchers – all equally impressive in their own right – combined for the seven-hit shutout. It began with 2019 RHP/SS KC Hunt (Ramapo HS, NJ), a highly projectable 6-foot-3, 165-pound two-way talent, a New Jersey native competing against many players from his home state. Hunt, who is also a standout left-handed hitting shortstop, pitched three scoreless, yielding three hits with one strikeout and one walk behind an 83-86 mph fastball, 76-77 slider and a 77-mph knuckleball.

Hunt was relieved by 2018 RHP JC Parker (Thompson HS, AL), a side-armer who hit his spots with surgical precision. In his first inning, Parker needed only seven pitches – all strikes – to retire the side.  Parker allowed two hits, struck out five and walked one in three innings work. Parker’s fastball ranged between 80-85, while spotting his 67-69 slider consistently at the knees.

To close out the game, the Knights turned to 2018 RHP Will Ripoll (George Ranch HS, TX), a 5-foot-11, 171-pounder. Ripoll first turned heads with is relief stint against Elite Squad on Friday, pumping 86-89 mph fastballs with a tight, late-breaking 67-69 slider. Ripoll got two quick outs before MSI strung two straight singles together. But Ripoll induced a groundout to third base to solidify the championship for the Knights, who was the youngest team in the tournament with several rostered 2019 prospects.

The game’s only run came in the third inning, courtesy of the bottom of the order, when 2019 Carson Byrd (Spanish Fort HS, AL) led off with a single and eventually scored on 2019 OF Conner Hegan’s (Spanish Fort HS, AL) double to left field.

The Knights’ offense couldn’t quite figure out MSI 2018 LHP Colin Eiser (Neumann-Goretti HS, PA), who undoubtedly raised his stock after his strong performance. The athletic 6-foot-2, 160-pound left-hander kept the Knights’ offense off balance, staying around the zone with his fastball-slider combination. Eiser yielded five hits and struck out five with one walk in five innings work. His fastball sat 81-83 early, touching 84 with some arm-side life, while his slider maintained at 68-70 throughout. He has a quick arm and athletic feet on the mound.

MSI, which advanced to the title game with a victory over the Elite Squad in the semifinal, looked like it was going to break through in the third inning when 2018 Joe LaFiora (Neumann-Goretti HS, PA) ripped a one-out double, followed by a walk to 2018 Jack Dubecq (Saint Marks HS, DE).

Then chaos ensued.

The next hitter, 2018 3B Justin Meyer, grounded to the second baseman, who fumbled the ball before flipping to second base. The runner, who was clearly safe, perhaps thought he was out, or maybe he thought time was called … nevertheless, and began running back to the MSI dugout. As that confusing subplot unfolded, another developed at third, as the Knights threw to third to get that runner, too, but instead tossed it away. So then the runner bolted for home, but was thrown out.

Confusing, eh?

Lengthy pow-wowing between the umpires and coaches, along with blood-thirsty screams from the fan base rained down. Did the umpires call timeout? (No). Was the runner out at second base? (Yes, he gave himself up). Should the runner go back to third base because of the mass confusion? (No, the ball was live and he ran on his own free will). After much deliberation, the umpires correctly concluded both runners were out, which ended a potentially big inning for MSI.

Offensively, 2018 1B Hunter Hall (Oxford HS, PA) paced MSI with a pair of hits. For the Knights, 2018 1B Cade Beloso (Foster HS, TX) doubled and walked, while Byrd collected two singles.

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