KEARNS — It will be an elite collection of baseball talent rarely seen in one tournament in Utah.
The Gates Field World Series, which begins Wednesday and lasts through Sunday, will feature two local teams sponsored by the Marshall Gates Foundation and some of the top Connie Mack teams in the West and Southwest. Utah will be represented by the Marshalls and Bucks, and they'll take on well-known clubs such as the D-BAT Mustangs (Texas), Danville Hoots (Calif.) and Cherry Creek (Colo.).
"The teams are phenomenal," said Marshall Gates Foundation director Chad Shepherd. "That's what's great about it. I don't know all the history, but I'd imagine it's the most talented amateur baseball tournament to ever be held in Utah."
The eight teams competing in the Gates Field World Series do seem to be loaded. For the locals, the Marshalls have been led by Skyline's Trey Nielsen, Lone Peak's Dillon Robinson, Juan Diego's Luke West and Bingham's Braden Anderson this summer. Nielsen and West have signed with Utah, and Robinson, the 5A MVP for the 2010 season, will play at BYU.
The Bucks were a last-minute replacement entry in the Gates Field World Series. They have been led by Dominique Taylor, a three-year starter at shortstop for Northridge, as well as Viewmont pitcher Justin Rupe.
The D-BAT Mustangs are probably the team to beat in the Gates Field World Series and feature players who have committed to Texas, Oklahoma, Alabama and TCU.
"The D-BAT Mustangs team should be fantastic," Shepherd said.
Cherry Creek features two Division I players in pitchers Ben Mordini and Tito Nava. Mordini will throw at the University of Utah next season. Nava will play at Duke. Mordini has recorded 43 strikeouts in 292?3 innings this summer.
The Hoots are led by Chris Keck, a shortstop who will be a senior next year. He has committed to play at UCLA.
This is the inaugural Gates Field World Series, and Shepherd hopes it will become an annual can't-miss event for baseball fans.
"I'd like to grow it into a mini-Connie Mack World Series," he said. "We have a great venue (at Gates Field). It could turn into something cool."
Pool play games will be played at Gates Field Wednesday-Friday before the tournament begins on Saturday. Non-pool play games will be played at SLCC on Friday. The championship game is at Gates Field on Sunday at 6 p.m.
LITTLEWOOD MAKES TEAM USA: For the second time in three years, former Pine View shortstop Marcus Littlewood will don a Team USA uniform.
Littlewood, a two-time Deseret News Mr. Baseball award recipient, made Team USA's 18-under team. He participated in five days of trials last week, along with Spanish Fork's Adam Duke and Alta's Kavin Keyes. Duke and Keyes made the 36-player trials roster but did not make the final cut.
Littlewood played for the 16-under team two years ago and hit a game-clinching bases-clearing double against Mexico in the Gold Medal game of the Junior Pan-Am Games. The 18-under team will compete in the IBAF AAA 18-under Junior World Championships in Canada July 23-Aug. 1.
GATES FIELD WORLD SERIES
Cherry Creek vs. D-BAT Mustangs, 10:30 a.m.
Utah Bucks vs. Danville Hoots, 1:30 p.m.
So Cal Renegades vs. Albuquerque, 4:30 p.m.
Utah Marshalls vs. Dallas DBacks, 7:30 p.m.