Patience was a necessary virtue for LT Tolbert. Time he felt slipping away a bit, falling behind though still optimistic something likely to come down the pike.
The IMG Academy (Fla.) left-hander drilled a sharp ball that handcuffed the first baseman into right field for the game-winning run as the American squad fought back for a 2-1 victory over the National team in the Under Armour All-American game Saturday night at Wrigley Field.
It marked a wild reversal as the American squad overcame its difficulties with execution and timely hitting in overcoming the 1-0 deficit. The squad grouped three hits, all singles, in the pivotal eighth inning that proved the difference.
"I think we finally came together as a team," said Tolbert, the American team most valuable player who finished 2-for-2.
"Early on, we had some plays that didn't go our way, we didn't catch the breaks we wanted, but we finally put together some hits," he said.
The American team scored both of its runs with two outs. American team outfielder Demi Orimoloye delivered the other crucial at-bat, lacing a ball down the right edge that knotted the score at 1-1. "We were down one run, and I just told myself that I had to score there," he said. "The pitch was on a full count, and I just waited for it and it was there."
The game showcased many of the top-rated players in the national class of 2015, with a handful of top rising juniors. The American side had the better overall play, though had little to show for much of the game.
Texas outfielder Mitchell Hansen opened the game by drilling a double to the left-center gap in helping his team load the bases with no outs in the top of the first inning. National team starter Corey Zangari, a powerful 6-4 right-hander, settled down and coaxed a strike out and two ground balls to escape the inning.
After struggling offensively, the National unit broke through in the bottom of the fourth inning as Florida shortstop Ryan Mountcastle blasted an opposite field double that scored Oregon first baseman Josh Naylor, who also smashed an opposite field double, for the game's first run.
Mountcastle was named the National side most valuable player. "It was fun, we bot had those opposite field shots, but unfortunately it didn't hold up," he said. "Still, it was a great experience, to be on a field like this tonight."
The National side gathered one final chance in the bottom of the ninth against Gray Fenter, a right-hander from West Memphis, Arkansas. Ryan Johnson and Cody Clemens, the son of professional pitcher Roger Clemens, reached on an infield hit and a soft liner into left field respectively, bunched around two outs.
Fenter recovered, jumping out to an 0-2 count against Colorado player Nicholas Shumpert and ended the game with some high heat for a swinging strike out. "That's what I'm here to do," he said. "When it's the bottom of the ninth and you're got a good defense behind you, just let your defense work and eventually things will start to go your way.
"Luckily I was able to get my fast ball ahead of the last guy," he said, recording the save. Bryan Hoeing of Batesville, Indiana earned the victory, registering a strike out in one inning. He was timed at throwing 90 miles an hour.
Luken Baker of Oak Ridge, Texas won the home run derby.