A sterling start and a stellar finish powered local baseball player Xavier Neyens to MVP honors thousands of miles from home.
Neyens was named most valuable player of the Chesapeake Classic tournament in Aberdeen, Maryland, last week as he boosted Northwest Elite Baseball Club, a Tacoma-based team, to the tournament title.
The incoming seventh grader at Conway School hit a grand slam in his first at-bat of the tournament at the Cal Ripken Experience Complex, and in the championship game against the Kidball Cardinals he pitched 3 1/3 innings and went 2-for-3 at the plate with a solo home run and three RBI.
Northwest Elite went 5-0 on its way to the title. The team, made up of 12-year-olds from throughout the Puget Sound region, beat the Cardinals 15-6 in the Aug. 11 title game.
Neyens plays for the Bellingham-based Cascade Crush 13U team as his regular summer team.