For several area baseball players, their final tournament before heading to college was a memorable one.
The Grove City Titans closed a strong summer by winning the Phiten USA Prospect Tournament held July 17-20 at five locations in the Indianapolis area.
In the championship game July 20 at Wabash College in Crawfordsville, Ind., the Titans rallied to defeat defending champion Team Mizuno Midwest 6-5 in nine innings.
Trailing 4-0, Grove City scored four times in the seventh to force extra innings. Tyler Cowles (OF), a 2014 graduate of Grove City High School, had a three-run triple to make it 4-3 and 2014 Hilliard Darby graduate Nate Green (P/1B) added an RBI single to score Cowles with the tying run.
The Titans scored twice in the top of the ninth on RBI singles from 2014 Central Crossing graduate Connor Coup (1B) and 2014 Grove City Christian graduate Michael Howard (INF/P).
Hunter Clanin (C/P), a 2014 Ready graduate, earned the win in relief.
"It was a good way to end the summer," coach Todd Spadaro said. "It felt like we were getting beat by 15 runs. We came out and played so flat, we were playing so bad. Even though we were only down four, it felt like 30, but we came back."
The Titans opened the pool-play tournament by defeating the Indiana Bandits 9-2 on July 17 behind Howard, who was the winning pitcher.
After losing to the Indy Expos 4-2 later that day, Grove City bounced back to defeat the Indiana Thunder Red 4-3 and Chicago Elite 18 3-0 on July 18.
The Titans secured first place in pool C by defeating the McCormick Mavericks of Lafayette, Ind., 9-1 on July 19. They earned a spot in the final by defeating the Kansas City Phantoms 3-1 in a semifinal July 19.
Howard, who will play basketball at Otterbein University, completed four summers with the Titans.
"This was one of our biggest tournaments, it was our last tournament for the year," Howard said. "There was a group of us who had been playing with the Titans for four years and there was a group that just came in. It's been an up-and-down season. We played really well, but it's been up and down with injuries and guys on vacation. It was just nice to pull one out in the last tournament."
For Cowles, the tournament capped a spring and summer that saw him help lead the Grove City High School team to a berth in a Division I regional semifinal and win the MVP award as a member of Team Ohio in the Heartland Baseball Classic last month in Oklahoma.
Cowles, who will play at Sinclair Community College in Dayton, joined the Titans late last summer and completed his first full summer this year.
Also this summer, the Titans went 8-0 while winning the Grove City Summer Classic held June 13-15 and 6-1 while finishing second in the Midwest Classic held June 26-29 at Miami University.
Other area players this summer included Grove City graduates Dan Ankrum (utility), Jacob Curtin (P) and Josh Shaffer (P), Grove City Christian graduates Tanner Buhrts (P) and Tyler Elgin (2B/OF), Delaware graduate Greg Suber (3B/C/P), DeSales graduates Connor Golden (OF/P) and Sean Hoban (INF), Darby graduate Hunter McSweeney (OF) and Briggs graduate Juston Donnally (C).
The Titans won the Indiana tournament without key pitchers Eric Ashbrook (University of Dayton) and Derek Hendrixson (Heidelberg). They played in U19 tournaments for the Titans, but were ineligible for the Indiana tournament.
In addition to Spadaro, the team also was coached by Kory Winter. Spadaro is an assistant at Grove City and a 2008 graduate of the school, and Winter is an assistant at Muskingum University and 2006 graduate of Dublin Scioto.
"Summer ball is all about having fun," Spadaro said. "It's about reps and getting them better. It's always a lot more laid back than school ball or college ball. It's about getting those guys ready in seeing some good arms, playing good competition and just getting out there and being active playing baseball."