The Top 5 Best Indoor Basketballs

Top 5 Best Indoor Basketballs

Even if your basketball skills are on a professional level sometimes the quality of the basketball you use can impact your game. If you suspect that the equipment you’re using is holding you back on the court, it’s time to upgrade what you have so you can reach your full playing potential. Consider the top 5 best indoor basketballs currently available and find a new ball to help you elevate your game.

Factors to Consider When Choosing an Indoor Basketball

When shopping for a new indoor basketball, there are different factors that you should take into consideration in order to ensure that you’re buying a quality product that will match your needs and preferences. As you look at the different products on the market, compare the features of each and pick the best one based on those factors.


Basketballs can be made from genuine leather, composite leather, or rubber. However, rubber is usually reserved for outdoor basketballs since it’s durable and inexpensive to produce.

If you’re looking for a quality indoor basketball that will last you a long time but not cost you a lot of money, composite leather is the best choice. This material is softer than rubber and is basically made of a mixture of leather and synthetic materials to produce a more affordable version of the genuine leather basketballs on the market. They have more grip than rubber balls offering better ball handling. They also bounce well and are more comfortable to shoot. The only downside is that these basketballs may take a few uses to break in as they can feel slippery when you first buy them.

Genuine leather is what is used in official game balls in the NBA. They are the most comfortable to handle on the court but are quite expensive when compared to other options. These basketballs also take time to break in as the leather will be quite stiff out of the box. Once you do break a genuine leather basketball in, however, they feel incredibly comfortable during a game and most players prefer them over other basketballs.

Air Retention

You should also look at the reviews of any basketball that you’re considering and see what users have said about the air retention of the product. The air pressure in a basketball will naturally fluctuate but no one wants a ball that keeps going flat. This can affect you on the court and be quite frustrating. However, any quality basketball should have superb air retention. Steer clear of cheap basketballs that tend to be lower quality as these are more likely to lose air quickly and often.


You want to be able to dribble, pass, and shoot without the ball slipping out of your hand. The basketball’s grip is what keeps the ball in your hands despite sweating during a game or practice. Some balls are able to absorb moisture on their surface to help you maintain control while dribbling and for better accuracy when shooting and passing. Similarly, basketballs with wide, deep channels (grooves in the surface) can aid in a ball’s grip.

While a strong grip is important, you don’t want a basketball that feels too sticky in your hands. Look for that happy medium so you can find something that won’t feel slippery or too sticky. If you can’t physically inspect that ball before buying it, look to user reviews and see what people are saying about the ball.


A consistent, reliable bounce is important for indoor basketballs. You want to know that the ball will go where you want it to go every time it hits the floor. Smooth basketballs tend to have a more consistent bounce as those with deeper channels can hit the court unevenly and bounce erratically. Since you may not be able to test this yourself before buying a basketball, rely on user reviews or test reviews by reliable websites. You can also look at the design of the ball in question and see if its surface is smooth enough to provide a consistent bounce.

Top 5 Best Indoor Basketballs

The Top 5 Best Indoor Basketballs

There are a lot of great indoor basketballs available to purchase. Here are five of the best and most popular options currently available. Each one has its individual features and its pros and cons which should be evaluated and compared in order to find the best one for your needs.

Baden Elite Indoor Basketball

This is a synthetic leather ball that is quite durable for an indoor basketball. Out of the box, it seems to have a strong grip without the ball feeling too sticky making it ready to use immediately. If you’re looking for a basketball to help you improve your ball handling, this is a great choice. It also features a symmetrical design that will offer a consistent bounce during a game or practice.

Spalding TF 1000

One of the more popular options currently available, this indoor basketball is trusted by many basketball players. This is mainly because of its renowned quality over the years. However, despite its popularity and notoriety the newer versions of this model seem to be stickier than previous models and take a while to break in. That being said, it provides a consistent bounce and decent grip once broken in. Since it’s made by one of the most trusted brands in sporting equipment, you can be sure that even with its flaws the TF 1000 is one of the best options for indoor basketballs on the market.

Spalding NBA Official Game Basketball

This is a considerably expensive product that is made of genuine leather. While it takes a while to break in as all leather basketballs do, once you get used to it this ball is one of the most comfortable ones to use on the court. It provides excellent grip and ball control while also absorbing moisture from your hands so it won’t slip out of your sweaty palms. It’s trusted by professional ballplayers who actually complained en masse when Spalding tried to introduce a new version of this ball causing the company to revert back to the original.

Wilson Evolution

Another popular option among basketball players, the Wilson Evolution is the official game ball of the NCAA. It features a pebbled design along with deep channels to provide a strong grip for excellent ball control along with a moisture-wicking design that helps the ball absorb sweat from sweaty palms to help your shooting accuracy. The ball is also more durable than other indoor options so it will last a long time even with consistent use.

Wilson NCAA Replica Game Basketball

This is an affordable option made of composite leather that is great for indoor and outdoor basketball games. It has a good grip for strong ball control and is also durable enough to withstand constant use. If you’re just starting out in basketball and don’t want to pay a lot of money for a ball but still want a high-quality product this Wilson ball is a great choice. One thing to consider, however, is that this ball doesn’t feel as comfortable as some of the more expensive options but this to be expected considering that it costs less than half the price of every other basketball on this list.

Each of the top 5 best indoor basketballs can make a difference in your on-court game. If you don’t have a strict budget, the Spalding NBA basketball is an exceptional ball that, once broken in, can perform better on the court than others. However, the Wilson Evolution is a comparable product that is more affordable while the Wilson NCAA replica ball is a great option for beginners who want a quality ball that won’t break the bank. No matter what you choose, be sure that the ball you buy fits your needs and preferences so you get something that works best for you.

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Should You Wear Baseball Sunglasses During the Game? Here’s all You Need to Know

Should I wear baseball sunglasses

Baseball sunglasses may seem ridiculous to many individuals. Glasses specifically made for baseball? The idea sounds like nonsense, right? Well some of the pros believe that a decent pair of glasses can help a ton in winning a game. If you can find the right fit, baseball sunglasses become a helping hand, not a losing factor, when out in the field.

For many, they reduce UV penetration, allowing the players to see without the sun getting in their eyes. Others just use it so that the first thing that the ball hits isn’t their face. But the argument still stands. Do you really need baseball sunglasses? We’re here to answer that with a simple “yes”.

While many of these work just like regular sunglasses, the best baseball sunglasses can provide a whole lot more, reviewed by Here are 4 reasons to wear them, and 2 reasons not to.

Should you wear baseball sunglasses

Why Should You Wear Baseball Sunglasses?

#1. They Protect Against UV Rays:

We’ve all heard the old saying from our parents. “Don’t sit too close to the TV or your eyes will go bad.” While it might seem that TV screens do not emit UV rays, the scorching sun still does. These rays can alter the shape of the lens and even cause cataracts or skin cancer. The UV rays emitted by the sun have a lesser profound effect. But on sunny days, the radiations can cause rashes and eye irritation, and can easily block your vision.

Ever found it hard to look at the sun? Ever wondered why sunglasses make it so much easier? That’s because regular sunglasses block out all UV rays, making it easier to enjoy a sunny afternoon. Baseball sunglasses provide the same comfort, with many blocking out numerous other types of radiations. Newer models block out UVA, UVB, and UVC light, along with blue light. This not only means better eye health, but also clearer vision. Baseball sunglasses help to keep your head in the game, and your eyes!

#2. Vision Is Clearer:

Have you ever worn sunglasses all throughout the day? If so, you would know the extremely annoying vision blockage that these pesky glasses cause. There’s always that one smudge at the corner of your eye, the uncanny scratches, even the dull dark hue can block out your view. If you really want to watch the game (or play it), baseball sunglasses are the best choice. They have extra reflective surfaces that block out all other light, while allowing you to have a clear view of the field.

Most baseball sunglasses nowadays are resistant to scratches and smudges, and many can even enhance your vision. The tinted ones are especially unique, but we’ll get to that later. Most sunglasses have been treated to be water, fire, heat, pressure, and even time damage proof. This makes them ten times more convenient and usable than regular glasses.

#3. A Hundred Tints To Choose From:

Now you might be wondering: what’s so special about a tint? After all, natural vision has none. How can adding color to your vision make any difference? And why does that color have to be crazy funky and not just simple black? The answer to all of your questions is: contrast.

The reason why sports glasses come in such a variety of colors is that the right color may just win you the game. Regular black glasses can remove a lot of contrast and brightness from your vision. Uncanny colors like orange and yellow can actually add a lot more contrast, giving you a clearer view. You’ll be able to see all the obstacles and especially the bowler from afar. An increased brightness also removes any foggy appearances, making your vision as clear as day.

#4. It’s All About The Looks:

What exactly can some fancy looking glasses do? A lot, actually. In this day and age when it’s all about looking trendy, a one-up in your fashion sense wouldn’t hurt. Sports sunglasses actually have a pretty unique look to them. The lenses are exceptionally reflective, almost as if you can see your face in them. And the tint makes the look all the more hypnotizing. Most models are made of durable plastic polymers, which makes them easier to wear and easier to remove. Trust us, you’ll definitely be all the crowd can talk about.

Should I wear baseball sunglasses

Why Shouldn’t You Wear Baseball Sunglasses?

#1. If They Break, It’s A Lost Cause:

Due to the intricate look and design, baseball sunglasses can be harder to repair. And come to think of it, when have we ever heard someone repairing glasses? If the lens breaks, you’re done for. We recommend buying glasses which are flexible, which means lesser breakage. Plastic ones are the best as they can flex and withstand pressure. But out on the field, who knows what you might run into? The glasses may be durable but they aren’t indestructible. And when they break, you might lose a lot of money that you spent on it. Which is why buying expensive sports glasses can be a big risk.

#2. The Hue Can Be Distracting For Many:

If you don’t grow accustomed to the hue, it can be quite distracting. When all you see is orange or amber, you start to forget that color even exists. In fact, even with regular black sunglasses, many users find the unnatural tint to be disturbing. And if the tint gets in the way of the game, the results can be devastating, sometimes even dangerous.

Mostly, a few hours spent with the glasses on should be enough to get you used to them. But many people have to get prepared before they have the time to get adjusted. And that itself can lead to consequences. Still, we recommend buying the glasses. A lot of people have been satisfied. The clarity and visibility are all the more useful, and you might as well give it a try.


Baseball sunglasses have really proven themselves in the past. While we have pointed out a few drawbacks, we highly recommend getting your own pair. Who knows? Maybe the next home run will be in your favor.

In the end, all we have to say is that the best baseball sunglasses can make really good friends when you have nothing by your side. How much can a few dollars spent on decent glasses really hurt? When you’ve got your head in the game and eyes on the trophy, sunglasses are the last thing you’ll expect to help you. But in the world of sports, we take all the help we can get!


RBI Beats Pasadena in Epic Maryland AAU Championship Game

ANNAPOLIS, Md.—For the fourth time in program history, the Maryland RBI advanced skills development team are Maryland AAU champions.

Maryland RBI held on in a nail-biter over AAU 19U Mid-Atlantic Wood Bat League conference rival and defending AAU fall wood bat state champion Pasadena Baseball Club (Md.)—though the final score does not reflect the close nature of the Saturday afternoon title tilt played in sweltering 93-degree heat.

RBI survived second, first-and-third, and no-out threats throughout the game while clinging to a precarious 1-0 lead and then a 1-1 tie through the top of the fifth inning. Surviving those repeated jams allowed RBI’s bats to finally explode against the Eagles bullpen, scoring nine times in the fifth inning to put away the Eagles 10-1.

A year ago this weekend in the 2016 championship, Mid-Atlantic power and No. 1 top-seed RBI struggled on the mound vs. the South River Seahawks. In one of the biggest upsets in Maryland AAU sports history, South River shocked the AAU Baseball world as RBI lost in the finals to the Seahawks, 9-5. The stunning result of the collision reverberated throughout the nation.

Like last year, its fifth trip to the finals in seven seasons, RBI entered the 2017 championship game again as the No. 1 seed and with the same pitchers, Garrett Corry and Scott Mudd available.

Corry gave RBI seven strong innings, keeping up tremendous starting pitching that helped win the championship, while go-to reliever Mudd kept warmed up and ready to come out of the bullpen at any moment to get Corry out of jams. RBI had Mudd ready to relieve in the winner-take-all game for the title but in the end he was not needed. Corry went the distance for the complete game victory and was selected by Pasadena’s players as the MVP for RBI.

RBI did not break, in large part because of Coach Chris Cummings’ unshakeable confidence in his pitching and defense—pillars of RBI’s long run in AAU Baseball in Maryland—reinforced with an avalanche of timely hitting on full display at Riva Area Park that propelled RBI to the championship.

There were several key plays. In the fourth inning when Pasadena grounded to short with a runner on third, RBI’s Jake Willis fired home to catcher Jake Fedorczyk, who applied the tag denying the Eagles the go ahead run, dodging Pasadena’s best shot in the game, and snuffing the rally.

The game was tied at one with RBI batting in the bottom of the fifth when Jimmie Gentry doubled off of Kyle Davis, driving in the go ahead run. RBI went on to secure the victory thanks to an improbable 9-run explosion in the inning.

RBI’s big inning was driven by a lead-off double by Gentry, a single by Connor Graham, a single by Fedorczyk, a 2-run double by Billy Albaugh, an error, a single by Willis, and a groundout.

Corry went the seven innings for RBI, surrendering one run, six hits, striking out nine, and walking none. Kyle Davis took the loss for the Pasadena Eagles. He pitched four innings, giving up six runs, five hits, striking out five, and walking zero.

RBI collected 11 hits. Gentry, Albaugh, and Graham each collected multiple hits for RBI. Gentry went 3-for-4 at the plate to lead Maryland RBI. Graham and Albaugh each went 2-for-4 with a single and double. Willis, Graham, and Zach Gamblin each scored two runs.

The Pasadena Eagles had six hits in the game. Pat Blum and Nick Patacky each collected multiple hits for the Eagles. Catcher Jason Walls was selected by RBI’s players as the Pasadena MVP.

2017 AAU Mid-Atlantic Wood Bat League Championship

Back in mid-May, the first pitch of the 2017 AAU Baseball season in the National Capital Region was thrown as nine 19U AAU travel baseball teams started upon their journey toward the Maryland state capitol, Annapolis. Now, after a 16 game regular season, they are nearing the promised land of the 2017 AAU Mid-Atlantic Wood Bat League Championship at Riva Area Park and other Anne Arundel Recreation and Parks fields and area high schools. A weeklong single-elimination baseball tournament follows, and it should be plenty of fun. It should be an exciting continuation of what will be an incredibly intriguing week of AAU baseball.

John Pineau, who is director of AAU Baseball’s Potomac Valley and Maryland Districts, the president of the RBI youth baseball club and league, leads the amateur youth sports initiative that has become an annual fixture that honors, celebrates, inspires, and empowers AAU Baseball athletes, coaches, and volunteers in the National Capital Region.
“We are delighted at RBI to be leading the AAU Mid-Atlantic Wood Bat League Championship and league again,” said Pineau, who, in addition to being the commissioner, also is head coach of the Rats 19U team. “I am thrilled to be able to devote my attention to building AAU Baseball and supporting the great cause of improving the lives of youth, our nation’s greatest asset. Along with our many partners like Anne Arundel Recreation and Parks and high school and college coaches, we have a great opportunity to use the sport of amateur baseball to make a profound social impact, and at RBI we are taking full advantage of it.”

Pineau credits RBI colleague Ray Albaugh with the success of the 2017 spring/summer season.

“Launching youth sports endeavors as community service requires tremendous vision and leadership,” said Pineau. “Ray has played a significant role in the development of the AAU Baseball advantage in Maryland and was instrumental in spreading awareness in the community. He has done a phenomenal job organizing and implementing the 2017 season with a great passion for the baseball community and for the mission of our Maryland district in AAU and our RBI club. Throughout his distinguished coaching career, he has been known for his great intellect, big heart and creativity. He is the very best person to work with and take this league and tournament to an exciting new echelon for years to come.”

Since the fall of 2009, RBI has been remarkably successful, positively affecting youth throughout the National Capital Region and notably inspiring students for college. It hosted thousands of games in the region, including more than 1,200 games at Riva Area Park. Numerous RBI and the league’s players have advanced to college baseball and been selected for the summer collegiate baseball leagues, such as the Cal Ripken Collegiate Baseball League, the Collegiate Baseball League Europe, the Carolina Virginia Collegiate League, and the Mid Atlantic Collegiate League.

Annapolis Area’s RBI Draws a Large AAU Baseball Following

On a national level, youth baseball participation is down, but the Ruth’s Baseball Ideals (RBI) Baseball Club’s area Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) baseball program has experienced nothing but unsurpassed growth in longstanding collaboration with Anne Arundel County Department of Recreation and Parks.

The RBI club and Maryland AAU Baseball have earned prestigious recognition nationwide. Player registrations have jumped 6 percent – driven by the area’s need for high-quality, accessible youth baseball. RBI ranks among the fastest growing affiliate clubs in AAU Baseball.

What’s up with that?

With recent initiatives put in place over the last couple years, AAU Baseball has expanded significantly. In fact, it’s drawing more participants to its opportunities than ever before, with teams vying for spots in AAU’s array of district, state, national, and international tournaments.

“We are delighted to be among the largest and fastest growing districts in the U.S. for AAU Baseball,” said John Pineau, Director of the Maryland and Potomac Valley Districts for AAU Baseball, the AAU Mid-Atlantic Wood Bat League based in Maryland, Washington DC and Northern Virginia, and founder and president of RBI. “Our success is the result of the dedication of our volunteers and players.”

RBI has pioneered high school eligible baseball for ages 13-19 intensively in Anne Arundel, Kent, Prince George’s, Calvert, St. Mary’s, and Baltimore Counties. The Pasadena Baseball Club Eagles captured the 2016 Maryland AAU 19U State Championship, while the South River Seahawks won the Maryland AAU District Championship.

The PG Select Blue Sox won the 2016 AAU 10U Grand National Championship in Florida. The Kent Island Buccaneers youth club won the AAU 12U World Championship in Florida in 2015, and RBI reached the AAU 17U National Championships in 2013 at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex home of MLB’s Atlanta Braves Spring Training.

In other advancements, RBI is sending a team to the AAU Nationals at Florida’s historic Dodgertown USA this summer. The past two Maryland AAU Athlete of the Year Award recipients in all sports, as well as a nominee for the AAU Sullivan award recognizing the nation’s AAU athlete of the year, represented RBI.

RBI coaches also form a team of college baseball players to compete internationally in the high-level summer Collegiate Baseball League Europe (CBLE) in Great Britain, Spain, France, the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, Austria, and Czech Republic.

Pineau is enthusiastic about the new initiatives implemented to the AAU Baseball program. One of the those changes locally was adding a second set of tournament play apart from the popular Maryland AAU States, which is held in the autumn at the Riva Area Park complex (Annapolis, Md.). According to Pineau, introducing a second tournament just made sense. The Maryland AAU District Championships take place in June also at Riva Park.

Another alteration made was to the league age groups. “Only 30 percent of kids playing baseball at 12 were still playing at the high school level,” said Pineau.

RBI created new groups: the Freshman division, which includes ages 13-15; the 16U/17U division, all high school grade levels except seniors; the 18U/19U, which includes all high school eligible ages; and 18+ division for ages 18-23.

The innovations are having the desired effect, especially when it comes to the number of teams, according to Pineau. RBI saw an immediate increase in players, with a significant jump in the 16U/17U age group.

AAU baseball is a successful and competitive program that rivals many of the other youth organizations in the country. At the National Youth Baseball Championships, which crowns the national champions of the 10 and under and 12 and under leagues from the eight major youth sports organizations, AAU has won at least one of those age groups every year since the tournament began back in 2008.

With this kind of drive, determination, skill and passion, the AAU is a non-profit, volunteer led sports organization that has been around for over 100 years. It has become one of the most established youth sports foundations in the United States and continually strives to build its programs and remain one of the fiercest competitors in youth sports.

AAU has over 500,000 participants and more than 50,000 volunteers in all sports—over 22,000 athletes, coaches and helpers in Maryland alone—but it is still determined to increase that number through its many leagues, including its baseball program.

RBI’s AAU baseball program continues to expand and grow, forming more teams and recruiting more facilities to host district events, state qualifiers, league championships, regional qualifiers and, of course, national championships.

Constant Volunteer Field Maintenance Essential to RBI Success

ANNAPOLIS, Md.—In youth sports, there are countless people behind the scenes who lead by example and understand the importance of sacrifice and teamwork.

It’s the same with Ruth’s Baseball Ideals (RBI) Baseball Club…who’s example is John Pineau.

At RBI, it’s estimated that the teams Pineau has coached have won over 400 games while winning six league championships (2010-12) and two state championships (16U in 2013, 19U in 2015). He was named Maryland AAU Baseball Coach of the Year in 2014.

That’s the John Pineau who is a fixture in the Annapolis area as a youth baseball coach.

But his love of the sport goes beyond the excitement of the experience on the field. To say he’s devoted to baseball, and to AAU Baseball and RBI, is an understatement.

In addition to serving as the RBI club’s longtime president and coaching, Pineau is Director of AAU Baseball’s Maryland and Potomac Valley Districts spanning Northern Virginia, Washington DC, and Maryland and Commissioner of the AAU Mid-Atlantic Wood Bat League.

He’s also Head Groundskeeper for Riva Area Park’s 90-foot field.

“Riva Park’s 90-foot field, and 18+, 19U, 16U, and 14U youth baseball, wouldn’t be anywhere close to what it is without him,” said Mike Graham, longtime manager/coach of the AAU advanced skills development team Maryland RBI.

What Pineau does to operate and maintain the Riva field for AAU youth baseball couldn’t be duplicated by many others, Graham said. He should know—Graham cast his coaching lot with RBI seven years ago and has since managed four teams that made an appearance in the AAU State Championship game, winning it all back in 2012-2014 during an unprecedented three-year run as the state champions and competed for the AAU National Championship at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Fla., in 2013.

“Hundreds of players are only able to play this sport in our area because of John’s incredible efforts not only to organize and manage leagues for teams to play in but also his labor to maintain Riva Park,” said Graham. “He’s changed a lot of lives of many of these players. For many it’s been their critical path to play college baseball and brought together a family club atmosphere.”

Graham, who’s been coaching for 20 years, says he’s impressed how “John is always working on and making improvements to the field. I’ve coached all over the country and overseas and Riva in many ways still is my favorite ballfield—it’s like coming home.”

And that’s much of the reason why the Riva facility is what it’s become today.

“I think the success of our program depends a lot on the facility that we have and the TLC—tender loving care—we give it,” said Pineau. “I know every blade of grass on that field and I think that goes hand-in-hand with success that the program is able to thrive.”

Throughout these years Pineau has been the key player in maintaining the Riva field. In addition to his real life full-time job as a businessman, the 62-year-old often puts over 20 hours of field maintenance per week into the field.

“I do as much of the work as I can myself only because I know the kids don’t sign up to be field maintenance workers. They come to play baseball,” said Pineau. “So I do the bulk of the work, but I need the help of the coaches and community.

“After practice, after games you’ll see them out there with brooms, rakes, and the tractor-drag helping every way that they can. If the community saw how hard we all work on this field just so kids can play baseball, they would cry.”

That builds club chemistry which is one of the reasons Pineau believes that the program he leads has been so strong throughout the years.

“I’ve dedicated my life to youth baseball,” said Pineau. “This is a way for me to spend time with young people, get to know them, and stay young myself and share a lifetime of baseball knowledge with them. And try to guide them as best as I can.”

But nothing that has been done to improve and maintain the field could have been possible without the support of the community, which helps the club to cover the costs of the field.

“Some of it is provided by player registrations and business sponsorships, some of it by Anne Arundel County Recreation and Parks,” said Pineau. “Sometimes it comes out of my pocket. Most of it is sweat equity.”

Recently on a hot August day with the temperature on the field a searing 101 degrees, Pineau was busy treating, repairing, weeding, and doing everything necessary to get the field into condition for the fall baseball season that starts after Labor Day.

“ACE Hardware Lawn & Garden expert consultant Andy Summers visited the field,” Pineau said, “and complimented us on how well the field has survived the severe weather conditions this year. He was shocked by how well the field has held up because of all the field maintenance we have performed.”

Just as much as Pineau gives back to the people of the community, the club and the field that it so proudly maintains gives back to him, which fuels his drive and determination to continue to grow one of AAU Baseball’s top district-level programs.

That’s why, on any given day, even though the season may be over, you can still find Pineau on the field—maintaining the playing surface and getting it ready for the next season.

South River wins Maryland AAU championship

ANNAPOLIS, Md.—Before the Maryland AAU championship game South River coach Bryan Shores said he wanted his team to approach it like just another game. They did much more.

The Seahawks staved off a furious comeback attempt from Maryland RBI to win the Maryland AAU Baseball tournament championship game July 2 at South River High School. The victory earns the Seahawks their first Maryland AAU title after an exciting marathon ride through the 2016 Maryland AAU Wood Bat Baseball League season and tournament.

South River capitalized on Maryland RBI errors on the same play exploding for 6 runs in the fifth inning, as the Seahawks defeated Maryland RBI 9-5 in the Maryland AAU finals on Saturday. The misplay, which scored three unearned runs, broke open what had been a nail biter with Maryland RBI relentlessly threatening but not scoring.

After a scoreless first and second by both teams, South River scored first in the third going up 3-0 when it scored three runs on two singles. The lead stayed with the Seahawks after the third.

Maryland RBI (9-6 AAU, 11-7 overall) was trying for its fourth Maryland AAU title since 2012.

“Bryan has been coaching forever and South River earned it,” Maryland RBI manager Mike Graham said of Shores. “He and his coaches did a great job getting to the championship by knocking off Southern Maryland Elite.

“South River and Maryland RBI split during the season and most assumed Southern Maryland Elite out of Leonardtown/St. Mary’s County, would be the team to beat, but South River took them out and caught fire and played very well—focused, steady and solid at all the right times.

“We anticipated our experience was an advantage,” Graham said of Maryland RBI vs South River, “so we wanted to pressure [South River] in all phases—defensively in the field, on the bases, show them different looks, take chances and try to make things happen.

“We did get them on their heels at various times and they bent, but we just couldn’t break them. After the third, we were chasing. They are a tough bunch of kids. It was an exciting game and our coaching staff was very pleased how our guys rallied and battled to the last out. It was exciting.”

Shores and Graham laughed at the size of the crowd that turned out for the game. Over a hundred filled the South River HS field’s bleachers and fence lines.

Brad Marceron got the win for South River. He struck out four, walked two and surrendered five hits, allowing five runs over 5 2/3 innings.

South River was sparked by Nick Moskios and Eric Sieber, who teamed up for five hits and five RBIs. Sieber was named the Most Outstanding Player for South River.

The Seahawks couldn’t get anything going while Blake Thrasher was on the bump in relief for Maryland RBI. Thrasher held South River hitless over one inning, allowed no earned runs, walked none and struck out two.

South River built upon its lead with six runs in the fifth. The inning got off to a hot start when Moskios singled, scoring Marceron. That was followed up by Bryce Lerner’s RBI single.

After pushing across five runs in the top of the sixth, Maryland RBI faced just a 9-5 deficit. A two-run double by Mac McGrath fueled Maryland RBI’s comeback. “Mac plays like lightning in a bottle,” Graham said. “It’s open that bottle and watch out.”

An RBI double by Billy Albaugh followed—“Huge, timely and desperately needed,” Graham said—then a bases loaded walk by Micheas Yimam and a walk by Jeff Johnson. Finally, Sieber in relief put out the fire for South River with an inning-ending strikeout.

Graham said, “Our large senior class, winter workout program, the guys playing college and high school ball in the spring, the contributions of guys who don’t show up much, it all factors. It was a full on team effort, and just getting to the championship at this level is an achievement. It really comes down to there’s no easy road to a ‘ship in ‘the U’—playing in the Amateur Athletic Union is an honor and privilege.”

The championship game was originally set to be played at Riva Area Park at noon on Saturday, but a bad thunderstorm the night before flooded that field. With the threat of more rain Sunday, and with an AAU 18+ summer collegiate/amateur tournament scheduled at Riva, the most important Maryland AAU Baseball game of the year went off at 6 p.m. at South River HS.

“Bryan and his coaching staff did an amazing job to get South River’s field ready,” Graham said. “They dug drainage pits and pumped a hundred gallons of water off the field and applied who knows how much Field Dry pellets to get it ready for play. The field was perfect, mowed and looked great. No other program could do that, and it’s a credit to the Seahawks organization. As far as I am concerned, that alone was an AAU Coaching Staff of the Year performance.”

Much of the game was a pitchers’ duel to see which team’s arms would fade first. Maryland RBI built up repeated threats throughout the game, but only the explosion in the fifth produced runs.

Yimam was named the Most Outstanding Player for Maryland RBI.

“Ask any pro and college coach or scout and they will tell you wood bat is where it’s at for player development,” Graham said, “and this league is a lot better than people give it credit for. All but one of the 10 teams playing 19U and 18+ could beat each other on any given day. That made the league this year a flat out grinder, which makes South River’s championship all the more impressive. We salute them.”

Tradition of excellence continues with Maryland RBI

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — “We play for championships” is the four-word slogan and rally cry for the Maryland RBI 19U advanced skills development team associated with the Ruth’s Baseball Ideals (RBI) Baseball Club.
Assembling under-the-radar talent over a 7-year period built Maryland RBI into a Mid-Atlantic States regional brand with national profile, winning a record three consecutive Maryland AAU State Championships (2012, ’13, ’14) and earning a Maryland AAU record-setting number of five consecutive AAU National Championships invitation-only or automatic bids.

In that span, Maryland RBI has won 215 games and set the standard for excellence for AAU Baseball in Maryland, including one appearance in the AAU National Championships, finishing #5 in the nation (’13).

The run transformed the team itself into “Maryland RBI” and one of the Maryland, Washington DC, and Virginia region’s leaders in year round advanced skills development, turning many of its players into college recruiting commodities.

“For these young men, maybe 20-30 years down the road, they will look back at the privilege they had of playing baseball for Maryland RBI and remember these times fondly,” said Manager Mike Graham.

“What they have done and are doing and achieving today in the sport, it will define and reinforce a large part of their personal makeup forever—a significant source of the self-confidence and leadership they will take with them through life.”

The tradition of excellence the Maryland RBI coaching staff has built would put pressure on many teams, but it is welcomed by Graham.

“We enjoy the weight of expectation that drives this baseball team” Graham said. “We approach things very differently here. Motivation is easy when you are at the bottom because the only way to go is up. However, there are expectations that come with wearing the Red, White and Blue of Maryland RBI Baseball.

“This team of players and staff, its parents and heck even the grandparents expect to achieve,” said Graham. “If you don’t have a higher goal in mind for yourself in this sport and life, this is probably not the team for you. There are other options out there that are a better fit. Our players’ job is to perform academically, go to college, stay focused and on track, and honor the traditions of this team’s foundation, which is to be committed, honor the sport, and play hard and play the entire game.”

Maryland RBI is coming off its winningest year ever (34-12, .739 pct.) since the team first assembled in 2009. Last year coaches Mike Graham, Chris Cummings, Jim Hoyer, Ray Albaugh, and Jerry Gamblin were named the Maryland AAU Baseball Coaching Staff of the Year. Coach Cummings was named Maryland AAU Baseball Coach of the Year, while Graham entered the Maryland AAU Hall of Fame.

“It is easy to become a victim of success, become lazy and complacent, and muddle along,” Graham said. “But we built this team’s operation from the ground up from when some of the current players were 11 years old, and with the RBI Baseball Club and AAU support playing a large part we have grown this into an anticipation each year for playing quality baseball and winning baseball in a national brand. We have great, quality young men who understand and accept our goals and mission and who bring a lot of energy and excitement.”

This year’s team is more in numbers in order to allow players to have summer jobs and accommodate family commitments.

“Under that scenario, most coaches are just looking to field a team, but we are always ready to compete and challenge the natural order of things,” said Graham. “Maryland RBI has answered the call every year since 2010. The way travel teams come and go—here today, gone tomorrow—it’s impressive we’re still here.”

Overall the team is a collection of players that Coach Graham describes as “athletic” and committed to the ideal of baseball as a tool to better themselves for life and create opportunities for themselves downstream.

“We work a lot in the winter to generate bat power and speed,” Graham explained. “We generally are not physically big—we have a couple of beasts and some long, rangy types—but we are athletic, have some speed and explosiveness.”

“We think we’re going to have another good year, but this team doesn’t have any superstars or standouts,” Graham said. “It has guys with egos that are under control, team players with a go to work type of attitude and who have their act together. They’re a bunch of hard working guys that are one, look out for each other and are not just a collection of it’s-all-about-me types of individuals.”

This year’s Maryland RBI schedule includes playing both 19U and 24U/collegiate teams. “There’s no easy road to a ‘ship in ‘the U,’” Graham said. “Playing in the Amateur Athletic Union is an honor and privilege.”

He said the staff never expects to go undefeated in league play but has come close before and always places the team goal on getting better.

“It’s that simple and never about going 16-0 in league play,” Graham said. “Get real—this is baseball. It’s about handling the grind and rollercoaster ride of the season, showing up and being present in life, sacrificing and doing your part, and staying committed to the team’s purpose of advanced skills development and constantly striving for excellence. Take care of that and everything else takes care of itself.”