Nighthawks, UBC Tompkins squads advance to Connie Mack World Series

Steven Bortstein
Farmington Daily Times

FARMINGTON − For the fourth consecutive season, the Colton Nighthawks will make an appearance in the Connie Mack World Series.

Winners of last weekend's Artie Escobado Tournament in Pueblo, Colorado, the Nighthawks, coached by Ruben Montano, will participate in next month's Connie Mack World Series for the fifth time in the last seven years.

Meantime, the Dallas-based United Baseball team, coached by John Tompkins, stamped their ticket to the CMWS after proving best in the Heart of America regional tournament last weekend in Joplin, Missouri.

The Nighthawks, who hail from San Bernardino County in California, are led on the field by Matt Lorenzano, who pitched a brilliant game in the semifinals Sunday morning against the Bercovich Honors.

Lorenzano, a graduate this summer from South Hills High School in West Covina, California, struck out nine batters and allowed only one run on four hits and two walks as the Nighthawks advanced to the championship game with a 6-1 win.

A recent commit to Long Beach State University, Lorenzano was a star at South Hills High. He won 18 games during his career as a Husky, striking out more than 130 batters.

The 2022 Artie Escobado Memorial Champions are the Colton Nighthawks, June 26, 2022 at Hobbs Field in Pueblo, Colorado.

In the Sunday afternoon championship game, a 9-1 romp over the Pueblo Azteca, pitcher Kyle Calzadiaz stole the show. Calzadiaz struck out six batters and allowed only one run on seven hits as the Nighthawks jumped out to an early 6-0 lead after just three innings.

At the plate, the Nighthawks feature Eli Lopez from Los Altos High School in Hacienda Heights. Lopez recorded a .375 batting average in high school, driving in 20 runs and scoring 35 times. In the qualifying tournament, Lopez was one of three Nighthawks players with three hits in the semifinal victory, scoring a run and driving in a run.

Pueblo Azteca pitcher Brady Christelli fires off a pitch during their 17-and under team game against the Colton Nighthawks at the Artie Escobado Memorial Tournament on Thursday, June 23, 2022.

The Nighthawks were eliminated in last year's Connie Mack World Series after falling to the eventual champion Enid Majors by a final of 9-0. Earlier in the tournament, the Nighthawks eliminated the Southern California Renegades, one of four automatic qualifiers for this summer's CMWS.

UBC Tompkins powers their way into CMWS

After unsuccessful bids to qualify for the Connie Mack World Series in two prior tournaments, the United Baseball Club, based out of Dallas, finally stamped their ticket, coming out on top in a tournament held this past weekend in Joplin, Missouri.

The UBC squad lost to both the Dallas Tigers and Florida Legends teams earlier this month in regional tournaments held in Melissa, Texas as well as Murfreesboro, Tennessee. They earned their way to the CMWS by beating Marucci Elite by a final score of 4-0.

"We were prepared to go to Oklahoma and qualify there if we didn't get it done this week," said UBC coach John Tompkins.

By earning their way into next month's World Series, the UBC team will be the third representative from the state of Texas, in addition to the Tigers and the D-Bat team which serves as one of four automatic qualifiers for the series.

"It says a lot about the quality of baseball these kids are playing, not just in Texas, but in the Dallas-Fort Worth area in particular," Tompkins said.

Bennet Fryman and Zach Frye combined to shut down the Elite team in the tournament championship game, limiting the Elite to just one hit over seven innings. Fryman, a recent commit to Texas A&M University, struck out four batters in 5 2/3 innings of work.

"The strength of our team has really been on the mound this season," Tompkins said, also calling out the work done by Noah Kendrick, who vaulted the UBC team into the finals with a dominant performance over MMW Victus in the semifinals. Kendrick, a recent commit to Alvin Community College, struck out nine batters in the win, surrendering only two hits in a 1-0 victory on Sunday morning.

Noah Kendrick, shown here playing for the Nederland (Texas) High School baseball team in a photo taken May 22, 2022, is one of the leading pitchers for the UBC Tompkins team which qualified for the upcoming Connie Mack World Series.

"We've been very fortunate to have some guys come up with big efforts last week," Tompkins said. "We've been playing in some of these tournaments with a limited roster, so it was nice to have almost a full roster when we needed them."

This will be the first time for Tompkins to lead a team into the Connie Mack World Series. He served as an assistant coach in 2019 for the D-Bat team coached by Cade Griffis.

"I told these kids what it means to be a part of this event, and after seeing what it meant for the Legends and the Tigers earlier this month, I think it became real important for them as well," Tompkins said.

Four spots remain open for the Connie Mack World Series, with regional tournaments coming up in over the next couple weeks in New Orleans, as well as Enid, Oklahoma. The winner of the Don Mattingly World Series in Melissa, Texas and the local City League qualifier will balance out the field for the World Series, which will get underway on Thursday, July 21.