Arizona RBI wins 2016 RBI World Series Senior Division championship

Arizona earns Phoenix its first-ever RBI World Series championship

Arizona RBI has won the Senior Baseball Division Championship of the 2016 Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) World Series, earning Phoenix its first RBI World Senior championship in the 24-year history of the tournament. Arizona RBI defeated Passaic RBI in a 3-2 contest today at the P&G Cincinnati MLB Youth Academy. Arizona RBI, which played in its second consecutive RBI World Series and third appearance in five years, won four consecutive games after starting 0-2 and finished the tournament with a 4-2 record.

Arizona starting pitcher Genner Cervantes, 17, held the dangerous Passaic lineup to two runs (one earned) and three hits in 5.2 innings and was named the Most Valuable Player of the Senior Division Championship Game. Making only his second appearance on the mound, Cervantes held Passaic's best four hitters in this tournament to only two hits in 13 at-bats and retired 17 of the first 21 batters he faced. Cervantes is a student at St. Mary's High School.

The RBI World Series is the international baseball and softball championship tournament of the RBI program, the Major League Baseball youth initiative designed to provide young people from underserved and diverse communities with the opportunity to play baseball and softball, encourage academic success, and teach the value of teamwork and other important life lessons. The Cincinnati Reds are hosting the RBI World Series for the first time in 2016 and will again host in 2017, which will be the 25th RBI World Series. Every baseball team in the 2016 RBI World Series was able to play one game at Great American Ball Park, the home of the Reds. The rest of the games were played at the P&G Cincinnati MLB Youth Academy, Xavier University's Hayden Field and Withrow Field, which was one of the fields renovated as part of the 2015 All-Star Legacy effort between MLB and the Reds. The softball portion of the 2016 RBI World Series begins Thursday, August 11th.

The RBI program has provided a path for many players to enter the college and professional game. More than 200 RBI participants have been drafted by MLB Clubs throughout the program's 28-year history, and many others were given the opportunity for higher education through baseball and softball scholarships. There have been approximately 65 RBI players selected in the 2013-2016 MLB Drafts, many of whom have played in the RBI World Series (between 2009 and 2015). Approximately 90 RBI alumni have been drafted since 2008.

Alumni on MLB rosters during the 2016 regular season include Michael Bourn (Arizona Diamondbacks), Carl Crawford (free agent), Coco Crisp (Oakland Athletics), Yovani Gallardo (Baltimore Orioles), Chris Iannetta (Seattle Mariners), James Loney (New York Mets), Nomar Mazara (Texas Rangers), Anthony Rendon (Washington Nationals), CC Sabathia (New York Yankees), Hector Santiago (Minnesota Twins), Steven Souza, Jr. (Tampa Bay Rays), Justin Upton (Detroit Tigers) and Chris Young (Boston Red Sox).

Crawford (Houston RBI - '97), Crisp (LA RBI - '95, '96), Gallardo (Fort Worth RBI - '03), Loney (Houston RBI - '99) and Mazara (Dominican Republic RBI - '11) have each played in the RBI World Series. NBC News senior food analyst and former White House chef Sam Cass is also an RBI World Series alumnus.

The RBI program is administered by Major League Baseball and has served approximately 2 million young people since its inception. RBI currently serves approximately 230,000 young men and women in over 300 programs established in approximately 200 cities worldwide. MLB and its Clubs have designated more than $40 million worth of resources to the RBI program, and all 30 Clubs support RBI leagues.