BOWIE – The Prince George’s County junior RBI baseball team won the Mid-Atlantic Regional Tournament Sunday at the Baysox Stadium and will travel to Arlington, Texas, for the RBI World Series.
The team, which is comprised of 14 and 15 year olds from the county, went 4-0 in the Friday and Saturday’s group stage games, and then defeated Harrisburg, Pa., 2-1 in Sunday’s championship game.
“They were very excited,” said head coach Izzy Taylor. “I told them from the time this tournament started that we were gonna win the tournament and get on the big bird to fly out to Texas.”
Taylor credited the win to the team’s pitching and defense. Dematha sophomore Jessie Umstot started the game on the mound, and Eleanor Roosevelt Junior Clark Reese secured the victory.
RBI, Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities, is a program in partnership with Major League Baseball aimed at making baseball more popular among city youth. MLB partnered with the Prince George’s County Department of Parks and Recreation to host theMid-Atlantic tournament, one of eight around the country.
“It’s about getting kids into baseball that have been pulled away to football and basketball and bringing them back to playing baseball in hopes that eventually it will increase the American numbers in the major leagues,” said Byron Thompson, sports specialist for the parks and recreation department.
The Washington Nationals sponsored the regional tournament. Prince George’s Junior and Senior division teams received Nationals uniforms to wear during the tournament. The Nationals also provided tickets for Friday night’s game to all tournament participants.
“We are honored to partner with the Nationals and MLB/RBI for such a significant event,” said Ronnie Gathers, Director of the Department of Parks and Recreation for Prince George’s County. “Providing opportunities for youth to engage in meaningful recreation activities that enriches their entire lives is priceless.”
The senior division championship featured teams from Reading, Pa., and Philadelphia. RBI also hosts a concurrent softball tournament, but only two teams participated in the Mid-Atlantic region, both from Pennsylvania.
Thompson said he has seen several major league scouts at the tournament. 19 players in last year’s national RBI World Series were drafted by major league teams, Thompson said.
“They’ll get an opportunity to be seen that they wouldn’t have gotten anywhere else,” Thompson said.