Southwest Florida — known among fans as Swiffle — saw their nine-game winning streak in the Perfect Game Baseball Championship Series come to an end
It ended with an 8-0 loss in a five-inning, mercy-rule, 18-and-under division title game against the East Cobb (Ga.) Braves. The 64-team tournament concluded at City of Palms Park.
The East Cobb Astros, a 16-and-under team, defeated the Orlando Scorpions 10-2 in the 17-and-under title game earlier Monday afternoon.
“We definitely have a great team,” said Swiffle first baseman Garrett Greenwell, who graduated from Riverdale High School and will be at Santa Fe Community College this fall. “We were confident we would be here.”
Greenwell hit two
home runs earlier in the
day and drew two walks
in the title game.
“If a bunch of Southwest Florida guys can hang with them, that says something,” Greenwell said.
The Swiffle team consists of 18-and-under players, most of them from Lee and Collier counties.
The Braves, based in Marietta, Ga., have 17-and-under players pulled from all parts of Georgia and competing above their ages on purpose. Some of the players come from Alabama, Massachusetts, South Carolina and Florida, including outfielder Brady Anderson of DeSoto High.
Swiffle had posted a
9-0 record before the
championship began at
Both teams had to win in the quarterfinals and the semifinals earlier Monday at Terry Park, meaning the teams each played 19 innings in three separate games.
Swiffle shut out Team Mizuno of Puerto Rico 3-0 and then defeated the Tampa-based Bullets Baseball 8-5 in the semifinals.
And then, “we ran into a buzzsaw,” Swiffle coach Dave Fore said.
Fore, 64, played minor league baseball with future big league skippers Jim Leyland and Gene Lamont. Swiffle’s hitting coach, Mike Greenwell (Garrett Greenwell’s father), spent 12 seasons in the big leagues as an outfielder for the Red Sox. Pitching coach Sterling Hitchcock, who was on vacation this week on a fly-fishing trip to Alaska, spent 13 seasons in the big leagues, most of them as a starter with the Yankees and Padres.
“Having 25 years of big-league experience in our dugout doesn’t hurt,” said Fore, who made it to Triple-A as a catcher in 1973 but didn’t reach the majors.
“In 14 years, we’ve had 100 percent of our players go on to the next level,” said Fore, a retired chiropractor. “Now that doesn’t make me a good coach. That makes me a good talent evaluator.”
Pitcher Will Anderson, who will be a senior at Estero High this fall, started Monday against the best team he has faced.
“It was unbelievable,” Anderson said of East Cobb’s lineup. “There’s no weak spot out there.”
Swiffle finished second place with a 9-1 record to East Cobb’s 11-0.
“The kids played really like I envisioned them playing when I put this team together,” Fore said.