by Kyle Koso
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, Colo. -- After tackling two games Wednesday at the Triple Crown World Series, the 13u Bombers Baseball Club was ready to rent out some innertubes and make their way to the Yampa River.
That's as good a place as any to wash off some of the skunky, funky feelings left over from their second win on the day, a 13-12 scramble over the Rawlings Tigers at Vanatta Field. The Bombers (CA) scored 24 runs over the two games but nearly surrendered all of an 11-0 lead against the Tigers (MO), stopping the bleeding just in time as Rawlings scored five times in the top of the sixth inning.
The time limit expired as the Bombers were batting in the bottom of the frame; they looked ready to score again if needed, but everyone was happy to get off the field and not spend too much time agonizing over the details.
"What we touched on was, you're leaving here feeling like you lost the game, but you're still 2-0. You're lucky," said Bombers coach Matt Stykowski, whose team topped Building Champions-Stewart 11-1 earlier. "They'll come back tomorrow a little bit hungrier and focused. You can say it's lucky for us as coaches, because that's something invaluable, where they get fired up without us saying anything."
"You have to remember, you did what was needed to win two games. Now, it's over, flush it, and let's go tubing."
The Bombers scored 10 times in the first inning, getting those runs on six hits, four walks and a hit batter all within the first 12 at-bats. Conversely, the first 12 at-bats for the Tigers resulted in one hit, one walk and four strikeouts, and in the second inning the Tigers went three-up, three-down in four pitches. Given that imbalance, you can see why Bomber fans were looking ahead to the run-rule requirements and maybe hoping for an early arrival at the river.
The Tigers stayed in the fight, however. Asa Martinez doubled in two runs in the fourth, and the team put four more runs across in the fifth. In the sixth, a big two-run double by John Handy made it 13-11, and with two out Luke Allen singled in one more.
Desperate for help from his relieving corps, Stykowski turned to Kaiden Dossa, and he rang up the last batter on a called third strike. Dossa had already helped enormously at the plate, with three hits, two runs and three RBI. He hit a critical two-run single in the fifth, which provided the necessary insurance margin for the Bombers.
"We went up, and we let them come back. We weren't mentally ready for that, and once it came, we were shocked," Dossa said. "It felt great to (do my part), and in some of my at-bats I just tried to hit the ball and not focus on anything else. I feel like, when our whole team does that, we can get a lot of runs and play good baseball. We'll forget about all this and start out fresh the next time."
"Kaiden is what you want as a baseball coach. I don't like to bring kids in without warming up, and they only get eight pitches, but he looked me right in the eye and said, 'I'll stop it,'" Stykowski added. "What else do you want in a 13-year-old. Sometimes we don't give these young men enough credit, and that was very impressive."
The Bombers had eight different players drive in runs. Tyler Buxton drove in two runs, doubled and hit a monster home run to lead off the second inning.
"We had this in the bag and let them come back. I feel like we will be very hungry tomorrow," Buxton said, who as catcher helped guide Dossa through that critical strikeout. "I wanted him to hit his spots, because it was already 1-0 and we were down in the count. I got on the outer half of the plate and hoped he'd hit the spot, which is what he did.
"(Before the home run), he threw a curveball that I really didn't expect. He did the same thing on the third pitch, and I knew it was coming."
Five teams started pool play with 2-0 records; the rest of pool play will take place Thursday, and the top six seeds will get a first-round bye as Friday's bracket play begins.