When he arrived in Washington, D.C. just days before the season began and threw three innings of one-run baseball, everyone sitting in the dugout, in the stands and in the press box at the Washington Nationals Youth Baseball Academy in Southeast D.C. knew that Cooper Vest (BYU) was special.
He turned his first start since high school on June 7 into a staggering 1.12 ERA in 24 innings on the bump. And add to that, he and four other DC Grays — outfielder Scott Bandura (Princeton), pitcher Tucker Alch (Catholic), shortstop Cam Bufford and infielder Jared Sprague-Lott — were named to the Cal Ripken Collegiate League All-League teams.
Vest, Bandura, Bufford and Alch earned First Team honors, while Sprague-Lott was named to the Second Team.
Bandura is set to make his Cape Cod League — considered the nation’s premier collegiate summer league — debut next summer with the Hyannis Harbour Hawks, while Bufford and Vest earned invites to the Cape before its 2021 season concluded.
Bufford accepted the invite and played in four games for the Falmouth Commodores, while Vest turned the invitation down in order to return to BYU for the beginning of the fall semester. All five players earned All-Star nods and played against Team Israel in Harrisburg, Pa. towards the end of the season.
Alch led the league in ERA with a 1.82 average in 29 ⅔ innings, but Vest led his squad with a 1.12 mark in 24 innings on the bump. Vest, after completing his true freshman season with the Cougars, had planned to spend his summer at home, but was told by his coaches at BYU to head to Washington a week before the summer season began to pitch.
He hit .261 as an outfielder in 27 games with BYU, but wasn’t able to take the bump in the spring after undergoing an elbow procedure during his senior year of high school.
Bufford, Bandura and Sprague-Lott, all former Little League World Series participants, paced the Grays’ offense in just about every category this summer.
Bandura, DC’s center fielder, was the centerpiece of the offense, leading the team in games played (28), batting average (.351), hits (34), RBIs (26), walks (21), and even led the league in stolen bases with 31.
Bufford, meanwhile, flexed his muscles and mashed a team-leading seven home runs before he headed up north after finishing out the Grays’ season against Bethesda in the league semi-final series. And Sprague-Lott, after leading the Atlantic-10 in batting average, hit .284 and drew an absurd 20 walks in 26 games, while moving all around the infield to fill manager Reggie Terry’s needs.
The DC Grays continue to count down the days and look forward to what next summer has in store.