Banditos, Team Phenom dominate NYBC semis

Banditos, Team Phenom dominate NYBC semis

Banditos, Team Phenom dominate NYBC semis
MEMPHIS -- The field for the 2012 National Youth Baseball Championships title game is set.

The Super Series-champion Houston Banditos Black and USSSA champ Team Phenom (Moreno Valley, Calif.) each used big fourth innings in Sunday's semifinals to advance to Monday's championship.

The Banditos used a nine-run fourth en route to a 13-6 win over NABF's Central Florida Gators (Altamonte Springs, Fla.) in Sunday's first semifinal, while Team Phenom scored six fourth-inning runs to beat AABC's So Cal Outlaws (Chino Hills, Calif.), 13-3, in five innings in the nightcap.

Monday's championship is at 6 p.m. CT and will be televised on CBS Sports Network, and can also be followed live on

"We're excited. Our whole year is about getting here," Team Phenom manager Joe Keller said. "These guys don't want to just settle to be excited just by being here. They wanted to go to the championship, and they did."

Banditos coach Ray Deleon was hoping to face Team Phenom in Monday's final.

He got his wish.

"According to everybody, they're the best team in the country, and for us to be the best we've got to beat the best team," Deleon said.

Keller also was looking forward to facing the Banditos. The two haven't played in two years.

"The two best teams in the country are meeting, and that's why I'm glad," Keller said. "It's been evident all year long, and we wanted the best teams to meet, and that's what happened."

Semifinal 1: Houston Banditos Black 13, Central Florida Gators 6
A record-setting pitching performance by left-hander Thomas Burbank and a nine-run fourth inning led the Banditos past the Gators and into Monday's championship.

Burbank set an NYBC record by striking out 15 in five innings, recording every out via the punch out.

"We knew all along that he had the goods to do it," Deleon said. "That kid's been there for us all year. He was dominant. His breaking ball was outstanding."

Despite Burbank's powerful stuff, the Gators managed five runs off the lefty, one coming in the top of the fourth on a controversial balk call to put Central Florida ahead, 5-4. The lead quickly vanished in the bottom of the inning, as the Banditos exploded for a nine-run frame.

Alerick Soularie began the fourth-inning rally with a go-ahead two-run single, and Hunter Watson followed with a two-run double. Michael Cooper had the inning's big blast, launching a two-run homer.

The Banditos added three more runs as four Central Florida pitchers took the mound in the inning.

Soularie led the Banditos with a game-high three hits, while Watson and Cooper each had two hits and drove in three. Dakota More, Daniel Britt and Shane Jessen also had two base knocks, while Matthew Ferris drove in a pair.

Semifinal 2: Team Phenom 13, So Cal Outlaws 3
Team Phenom put on an impressive power display in Sunday's nightcap, hitting five home runs -- two off the bat of Michael De Oca.

Emilio Vasquez, Joseph Perez and Jordan Kaplan also homered for Phenom, with Kaplan's blast in the fifth putting his team ahead by 10 and ending the game.

Both of De Oca's homers were two-run shots, while Perez also went 3-for-3 and drove in four runs.

"I just felt that today was the day when the guys finally woke up," Keller said. "They weren't pressing. They came and they said, 'You know what, coach? We're going to lay it on the line,' and that's exactly what they did."

Vasquez earned the win on the mound, allowing three runs on five hits in five innings. He also struck out six, and didn't walk a batter.

Michael Sandoval also homered for the Outlaws.

Cash Kruth is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter at @cashkruth. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.