The Junior Baseball League of Nassau (JBLN) went into Eleuthera with one goal in mind over the weekend, and that was to leave as national champions in the 12-and-under (12U) division and represent The Bahamas at the Little League Caribbean and Latin American Championships, from July 13-20, in Willemstad, Curaçao.
In the absence of Freedom Farm at the 12U nationals, they did just that. JBLN finished the single round-robin portion of the tournament with a 3-0-1 win-loss-draw record, and went into Sunday’s semifinals as the top seed. In their semifinal contest, they dismantled Eleuthera, 11-1, and then took apart the Grand Bahama Little League (GBLL) in the championship game, 12-1. The weekend tournament was played between the parks in Rock Sound and Palmetto Point. The gold medal game was contested in Rock Sound.
Bohan Adderley got the win on the mound for JBLN in the championship game and Jayson Cooper suffered the loss for Grand Bahama. Rahim Fox and Max Williams came on in relief for GBLL but neither could stop the bleeding. JBLN broke a scoreless tie open with seven runs in the bottom of the third inning, highlighted by a two-run shot from Durwuan Stuart. JBLN was ahead 9-0 before GBLL finally got on the scoreboard in the top of the fifth inning, and then finished off the game with three runs in the bottom of the fifth.
Stuart finished 2-for-4 with two RBIs and two runs scored for JBLN, and carted off the Most Outstanding Player Award. Alexander Eneas was 2-for-3 and scored a run in the championship game. Ashton Roache and Chozen Brown both had RBI hits. For GBLL, lead-off batter Calvin Martin finished 2-for-3 with a run scored. Byron Fox had their only other hit.
Rahim Fox from GBLL was named as the tournament’s best hitter, and Teagan Coleby from JBLN won the Best ERA (earned run average) Award.
“The guys came together at the right time,” said JBLN Head Coach Javier Bowe. “We ended up with one tie, against Legacy, and the goal after that was to get the top seed. We decided to leave one of our top pitchers, Bohan, for the championship game, and he went out there and threw a gem for us. Grand Bahama never saw him, so we were of the impression that once he was on his game, we would win easily. Our offense came together, defense played marvelous and we were able to pull it off. We’re glad to be bring the championship back to Nassau and more specifically, JBLN.”
Bowe was assisted by Coaches Ellie Miller and Kenny Mondesir, and shortly after they won the gold, the league sent out a congratulatory remark to the team and all three coaches.
The weekend extravaganza represented the first time that at least a segment of the Bahamas Baseball Association (BBA) National Championships was taken to one of the Family Islands. From all indications, the island of Eleuthera served as a tremendous host. Joining JBLN and GBLL in the weekend tournament were the Legacy Baseball League out of Grand Bahama, the host Eleuthera Baseball League, and the Andros Baseball League out of Andros.
The Freedom Farm Baseball League (FFBL) out of New Providence chose not to defend their national title in the 12U Division, instead focusing on sending a 12U team to Perfect Game 12U World Series from June 28 to July 2, at the East Cobb Baseball Complex in Marietta, Georgia, and the Cal Ripken Major70 World Series from August 2-10 at Ballparks of America in Branson, Missouri.
Both tournaments are major classics in the United States, but the 12U winner from the nationals will go to the Little League World Series qualifier in Curaçao, and the winner of that tournament will represent the Caribbean region at the Little League World Series, from August 15-25, in Williamsport, Pennsylvania – arguably the biggest and most prestigious 12U tournament in the world.
“I was a li’l disappointed that Freedom Farm decided not to send a team, but I don’t think that would have made a difference because we would have seen the best that they would have had to offer at the 12U tournament earlier this year,” said Bowe. “I was very confident in the ability of my team and what we had to offer. We made a minor change from the team that played in Freedom Farm 12U Tournament earlier this year, and we liked our chances. We believe we would have been crowned champions regardless.”
In the semifinals on Sunday morning, JBLN took apart Eleuthera, and GBLL squeezed past Legacy, 12-11. In the bronze medal game, Legacy easily defeated Eleuthera, 9-2.
Regarding the huge disparity in play between teams from New Providence and Grand Bahama and their counterparts in the Family Islands, Bahamas Olympic Committee (BOC) President Romell Knowles said that he is optimistic that the playing field will level out in the not too distant future.
“They must crawl before they can run. When you take into account these leagues are very young compared to Nassau and Freeport who was playing baseball from the 50s, then you could understand the situation. Of course, coaching plays its part as well,” said Knowles. “I can guarantee you the scores do not reflect the amount of talent and potential in the islands. Pitching is the difference. Sooner rather than later they will catch up.”
The BBA National Championships continue next weekend with the staging of the eight-and-under (8U), 10-and-under (10U) and 14-and-under (14U) championships in New Providence between the JBLN Field of Dreams Complex and the Freedom Farm Baseball League Park.
Education: College of The Bahamas, Associates in Accounting
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