Triple Crown’s 11u World Series represents the final tournament during a grueling summer of baseball for Dallas Tigers-Bergman. Though, with the way the team came out of the gates during pool play on Wednesday, you’d think they were in mid-season form.
Cruising past Building Champions, 16-0, aided by a walk-off home run from Caleb Hoover, the Tigers matched up against the Centennial State natives, Slammers-Audino. Despite a drop in its offensive production, Dallas utilized its stout defense to roll through the Slammers, 4-0, kicking off the tournament on the right foot.
“They came out today ready to play,” said head coach Brett Bergman. “I love the way they swung the bat in the first game. They just got after it, hit a lot of gaps and made the right plays.
“Our pitchers were excellent in both games. I’m really proud of those guys coming out, throwing strikes and letting the defense play.”
The Tigers’ pitching prowess was on display early and often against Slammers. Louis Bussard earned the starting gig, pitching the first two frames. Bussard struck out two, allowing just one base runner and even then he wouldn’t advance any further than second base.
“Today was a lot of just trusting my defense,” said Bussard. “It’s always fun to pitch in front of them because you always know they have your back. Even if you pipe one down the middle, you know they’ll make the play.”
While Dallas was busy keeping Slammers quiet in the first two innings, Slammers returned in the favor in the bottom half of frames. Both teams changed pitchers midway through the contest, but through three full innings of baseball, neither team mustered a run.
“We struggled a little making adjustments with the pitcher,” said Bergman. “By the time we made an adjustment, they made a pitching change. I expect these guys to be ready tomorrow.”
Things looked promising for the Tigers in the bottom of the fourth inning. An error let J.T. Cienega climb aboard with only one out. A passed ball and a stolen base later, Cienega was standing on third, letting Trent Bower drive him home with a sacrifice ground out.
Beginning in the fifth inning, coach Bergman tabbed Brady Gray, who came on in relief for Sawyer Farr. Gray continued the job Bussard and Farr had laid the groundwork for in the four innings prior. All the while, it was Caleb Hoover captaining each pitcher through the combined shutout.
“All those guys are great,” said Hoover. “They know how to throw strikes. All I really have to do is catch the ball when they put it in the right place.”
A pair of errors in the fifth inning created an opportunity for some insurance with Will Yeary at the dish. Yeary promptly delivered with a RBI single, scoring Aj Miera, pushing Dallas’ lead to two. Yeary would come around to score along with Brayden Bergman, giving the Tigers a 4-0 advantage headed to the final inning.
Though Slammers managed to move a runner to third base for the first time during the contest, Gray stood his ground, claiming the final out with a grounder to second and giving his team its second victory of the afternoon, 4-0, over Slammers.
“I happen to think we have a really great team,” said Hoover. “We hit the ball well and collectively have a great defense. We just need to continue to play as a team and we’ll do just fine.”
The Tigers get one more pool play match up on Thursday against the El Monte Dukes before bracket play begins.
“We’re in a great spot,” Bergman said. “In a double elimination tournament like this with so much great talent, having good pitching later in the week is always key. Our guys did a great job out there and I’m confident we’ll have plenty left in the tank come bracket play.”
While Louis Bussard agrees with his coach’s assessment, he had a few other keys to victory this week.
“We just need to have fun and go to bed at a decent hour.”