Top-tier players and teams were on display last weekend around Baldwin County at the Prep Baseball Report South Alabama Showdown hosted in Robertsdale, Gulf Shores and Orange Beach Thursday through …
Top-tier players and teams were on display last weekend around Baldwin County at the Prep Baseball Report South Alabama Showdown hosted in Robertsdale, Gulf Shores and Orange Beach Thursday through Saturday.
Half of the 14-team field represented Baldwin County against other top programs from around the state including defending champions from Hartselle in Class 6A and Mobile Christian in Class 4A.
Although it was PBR’s inaugural event in the southern part of the state, Alabama Scouting Director Austin Sharp said they hosted a similar event in the Birmingham area to start last year’s regular season. For this season, he said they wanted to see some of the top players from this neck of the woods up close and personal.
“(The PBR Kickoff Classic in Birmingham) was our first-ever event that we wanted to have and then we said, ‘Hey, why not next year, we go down south and get 14 teams with multiple host sites in the southern part of the state and let them play four or five games against each other and get to see them,’” Sharp said in a Feb. 27 interview.
In addition to the host teams, Baldwin County was also represented by the Fairhope Pirates, Daphne Trojans, Spanish Fort Toros and Bayside Academy Admirals. They all took on teams the likes of the Faith Academy Rams, Saraland Spartans, Spain Park Jaguars, St. Paul’s Episcopal Saints and Tuscaloosa County Wildcats.
“In our preseason polls, we had seven of the 14 teams ranked inside the top 10 coming into the weekend. I went back and looked at some of the really good players on those teams too and I think we had probably over 40 players on those teams ranked inside of our top 50 throughout the state,” Sharp said. “So it brought in some really good teams but also brought in some really good players that we were excited to see and it definitely exceeded our expectations.”
Host coaches share appreciation
All three host coaches also spoke about seeing some of those top-tier programs on their home fields where their teams could also see preparation habits before the game.
“How else do you get to watch Hartselle and Tuscaloosa County here? David (Sharp, PBR’s Regional Supervisor for the Deep South), I hope he's locked in for this weekend every year for us,” Gulf Shores head coach Chris Jacks said after Friday night’s game against Orange Beach. “It's great to have that type of baseball here. That was my goal, when me and David started talking about this last year, was let's bring good baseball down here. I need my kids to see good baseball.”
“It's great to have some really good, quality teams come down to Robertsdale and play and it's an honor for us to be involved with it,” Robertsdale head coach Peter Bezeredi said after Saturday night’s game against Daphne. “Today was a good day and we've had some really good, quality teams come to the Gulf Coast and we're just excited to get a couple of wins out of it.”
Not only that, but with the scouting reputation of Prep Baseball Report, Mako skipper Ben Slaton mentioned his excitement over the recruiting exposure aspect.
“That's an awesome thing about where we are, and I just love the opportunity for our guys to be able to play on their home field. We've got an awesome facility here and I love having the opportunity to play teams like Hartselle,” Slaton said after Thursday’s game against the Tigers. “PBR putting on a cool event like this to give our guys exposure and an opportunity to play in front of guys to hopefully turn some heads and get some attention of some college scouts and recruiters is great.”
Next year’s event already in planning stages
Before the weekend could finish, Austin Sharp said he already received plenty of positive feedback from the coaches involved and said they hoped to be returning to the Gulf Coast for another showdown next year.
“Some of the teams that were there this weekend were probably wanting to come back next year but we talked to some other teams as well and think that those three host sites were perfect for us and I think they enjoyed it as well,” Austin said. “Hopefully we can do the same thing next year.”
“I'm proud to host this down here with Coach Bezeredi in Robertsdale and Coach Slaton in Orange Beach and I hope that PBR continues to choose us to come down here,” Jacks said. “We want to bring big-time baseball down here.”
“This is every Alabama player’s dream out here, to play on their own field in a PBR event,” said Gulf Shores senior Brendon Byrd after the 10-0 win over Orange Beach.
“It’s great, having this tournament here at home in Gulf Shores is great, it’s a fun deal to play good baseball at home,” said Dolphin junior Connor Gehr after the Friday win over the Makos.
Full local results from the PBR South Alabama Showdown
Thursday, Feb. 23
Daphne 16, St. Paul’s 8
Hartselle 7, Orange Beach 2
Mobile Christian 3, Fairhope 2
Spain Park 14, Robertsdale 1
Friday, Feb. 24
Bayside Academy 13, Robertsdale 7
Fairhope 16, St. Paul’s 8
Gulf Shores 10, Orange Beach 0
Mobile Christian 4, Daphne 3
Spain Park 9, Spanish Fort 7
Saturday, Feb. 25
Bayside Academy 9, Mobile Christian 5
Daphne 6, Tuscaloosa County 3
Faith Academy 7, Spanish Fort 6
Gulf Shores 8, Faith Academy 5
Gulf Shores 10, Hartselle 9
Hartselle 8, Spanish Fort 6
Mobile Christian 12, Orange Beach 5
Robertsdale 10, Daphne 8
Robertsdale 5, Fairhope 4
Spain Park 12, Bayside Academy 2
Spain Park 12, Orange Beach 6
Tuscaloosa County 11, Fairhope 8
Baldwin County unofficial standings from South Alabama Showdown
Gulf Shores: 3-1
Bayside Academy: 2-2
Non-Baldwin unofficial standings from South Alabama Showdown
Spain Park: 4-0
Mobile Christian: 3-1
Tuscaloosa County: 3-1
Faith Academy: 1-1
St. Paul’s Episcopal: 0-2