After an undefeated run to the cusp of a championship, the 13u Team Colorado-Altitude Baseball squad did just about everything it could to not look ready for the big moment Sunday, surrendering 18 runs to Millard Elite (NE) and facing a rematch in the double-elimination format at the Triple Crown World Series in Steamboat Springs, Colo.
Fully appreciating that their roster would not settle for consecutive losses on the big stage, Team Colorado played well when Game 2 was close and then broke it open, securing an 18-3 victory and leaving no doubt which team was built for the long haul in an event that can require teams to play 10 or more games.
Leading 5-3 after five innings, Team Colorado started the sixth with four straight hits and scored five runs; that was followed by an eight-run outburst in the top of the seventh and, eventually, a happy dogpile of players up the third-base line.
Game 1, where Millard prevailed 18-8, was affected in many ways by an incident where a Team Colorado baserunner intentionally ran over a fielder and was summarily ejected. Millard scored eight runs in the next inning, and the inevitability of a Game 2 was clear.
“Our guy made the wrong play running to first base; he made a judgment mistake, and that was a big mistake,” said Team Colorado coach Gene Macias. “Our kids felt bad, he felt bad, and that provided the momentum Millard needed to come out and kick our butts, and good for them.
“For (Game 2) … we value playing seven innings of baseball, and we don’t get too high or too low. If you want to beat us, you’ll have to do it for seven innings, and so will Millard. I have a lot of respect for that team; you have to beat them, because they won’t beat themselves. When it was 5-3, I told the boys, continue with that chip-away mentality. I think we did a pretty good job of that.”
The key moment, those five runs in the sixth, was fueled by a leadoff double from Reese Chapman and then singles from William Vasseur, Zander Reese and Owen Marsh. A sacrifice fly from Dorian Pacheco added to the party, and Carson Koenen came through with a nice two-run single.
Leadoff hitter Alex Cunningham was a beast, going 4-for-5 with a double and triple, three runs and two stolen bases. Chapman and March each drove in three runs; Cooper Catskee and Dallas Macias also drove in two runs.
“That first game, we just weren’t prepared for how well (Millard) was going to play. The second game, we realized we had to step it up and get it over with,” Cunningham said. “Hitting leadoff is one of the most important parts of a baseball team, and you have to start strong. It felt good.”
When the game was still in doubt, Dallas Macias was very stable and sturdy on the pitching mound, throwing five innings and working out of a bases-loaded moment in the fourth inning. Needing two innings of relief to wrap it up, Catskee allowed two hits and a walk and kept the scoreboard clean.
“I felt prepared, and we had very good hitting to start off the game,” said Dallas Macias, as his team got off to a great start by scoring four runs in the first inning. “That gave me a lot of confidence with my fastball and curveball; my fastball, when I can locate it like that, I can get on top and use my off-speed. That offense gives a pitcher a lot of confidence – that was really fun. Everybody was up there having a good time, hitting the ball around.”
“We earned the seed where we didn’t have to play as many games in the loser’s bracket,” coach Macias said, “so we spent some pitching early to make sure we didn’t do what we did two years ago and force us to win seven games to get to the championship. Pitching gives your team courage; Dallas was locating, hitting his spots … Cooper closed it down magnificently.”
Millard got a home run from Cole Goeser in Game 2; in Game 1, Camden Madsen had two hits and four RBI, Andrew Reiss had two hits and three RBI, and two RBI came off the bats of Kyan Lodice, J.C. Dermody and Connor Dixon.
In a nice moment of recognizing the efforts of their players, the Millard coaching staff had several players take their spot on the pitching mound in the final inning, helping to send off the athletes who were playing together for the final time as a group under the Millard banner. The team played four games on Sunday.
The 11u Utah Grays were faced with a near impossible feat after losing its first game of bracket play in the 2017 Triple Crown World Series. Tasked with a mountain of games in front of them after the loss, the Grays rallied together and rattled off eight consecutive victories, including two over the Oklahoma Mudcats in the championship series to claim the crown.
“I told the boys this morning that we were going to play 10 and bat 10,” explained head coach David Piersall. “And once we got to the championship series we were going to go all 12 innings.”
Turning their head coach into a soothsayer, the Grays did indeed make it the distance at Howelsen Hill Park on Sunday afternoon. However, they needed two wins earlier in the day to even set up the heavyweight matchup against the Mudcats.
A quick 5-0 shutout of the KC Dirt Dogs advanced Utah one round further, but it was the team’s 6-1 win over Dallas Tigers-Bergman that put them in the title match. Oklahoma on the other hand virtually breezed through bracket play, sporting a clean 7-0 mark before the championships.
Early in the opening contest the skill level was starkly apparent on both sides. The Mudcats turned a nifty 5-4-3 double play to end the top half of the inning, while Zach Edwards capped off the bottom half with a strikeout for the Grays.
Oklahoma struck the initial blow in the second inning, landing an RBI single scoring Aj Lynch. Utah would come back in a big way in the third inning, utilizing five base hits, four walks and a big two-RBI single from Nash Matheson to plate six total runs to retake the lead, 6-1.
“We got production out of virtually everyone in the lineup,” said Piersall. “Even at the bottom of the order, we’ve produced big hits.”
The Mudcats responded in the bottom half of the third with two extra-base hits, one of those a two-RBI triple from Pryce Bender. Oklahoma’s four runs vaulted the Mudcats back into the conversation trailing only by one run, 6-5.
Just as they had done all week long, the Grays rolled with punches, plating a seventh run thanks to a triple from Carson Moody.
Trouble arose in the bottom of the fifth inning when Lynch tripled to score two runs and tie the ballgame at seven. Will Dart wasn’t about his team’s magical run end, though. Recording an RBI double of his own, Dart would score on the next at-bat to give the Grays a 9-7 lead with three outs to go.
Piersall, with the another game with the Mudcats in his sights, tabbed his closer Carson Moody to get the job done.
“I knew I had an opportunity to close the game out,” said Moody. “I just wanted to get those three outs and move on the next one.”
Moody, calm and composed, closed out the Mudcats with two groundouts and a strikeout to force the “if” game.
“I was feeling pretty confident,” said Zach Edwards. “After winning that first game, we still had good pitchers left and all of the momentum was on our side.”
Each team reset its respective lineups and each fanbase reset their respective nerves for the final bout between the Grays and the Mudcats, this one for the 11u crown.
Cooper Hansen got the starting gig on the mound from Piersall and gave a truly gutty performance. Three nearly perfect innings blanked the Mudcats, allowing the Grays offense to take its turn.
Edwards, though not on the mound for Game 2, found a way to make an impact in the batters box, starting the second inning off with a triple. Will Dart eventually brought him home for his second RBI of the series, giving the Grays the early lead, 1-0.
The scoring remained relatively quiet until the fourth inning when Cash Williams dialed up a double, scoring two runs and putting the Mudcats on top, 2-1.
Before the bottom of the fourth inning, a bank of ominous clouds loomed over Steamboat Springs and with a bolt of lightning, the game entered a delay.
“I wanted the boys to get some extra energy,” Piersall said. “So while we had a bit of a break, I sent one of our dads for some chocolate milk.”
Refueled and ready for action, the Grays came out in full force. Edwards again came through for his squad, this time with a double. In total, Utah pushed across three runs, leapfrogging the Mudcats, 4-2.
Utah fans would not have a chance to breathe easy in the fifth inning. The Mudcats rallied again to score two more runs off a triple from Easton Costa, tying the game at four. With a chance to break the game wide open, Piersall went to Moody once more on the mound facing bases loaded with nobody out. Moody countered with a huge strikeout and promptly forced a momentum swinging 6-4-3 double play to get out of the inning.
“The boys did a great job of keeping each other up during the game,” said Piersall. “I think when the crowd started to get rowdy, they started to hype themselves up.”
A raucous crowd revealed itself again in the bottom of the fifth inning with runners on first and second and two outs for Porter Lindsey. In the biggest of moments, Lindsey doubled, scoring both runs and setting up a save opportunity for Moody to win the 11u championship.
In a complete deja vu moment for Utah’s fan faithful, Moody forced Oklahoma into three grounders, finishing off an improbable stretch of wins to claim the title, 6-4.
“I knew that if we could just keep hitting the ball hard we might have a shot,” said Piersall. “These boys just kept fighting, and I’d be lying if I didn’t say I was a little excited to be here myself.”
A complete marathon effort led the Grays to the title, playing 12 games across five days, seven in the last two and four on the final day alone.
“This championship means everything,” said Edwards. “I was glad to play alongside my brothers, and this is by far the most fun tournament I’ve ever played in.”
The 2017 Triple Crown World Series in Steamboat Springs, Colo., certainly has delivered on its anticipated high level of baseball to round out a competitive summer. The 11u and 13U DI brackets come to their respective conclusions on Sunday with highly anticipated matchups across the board.
Over in the 11u championship bracket, a 9-2 victory over Dallas Tigers-Bergman earned the Oklahoma Mudcats a spot in the final. It was the first loss of the tournament for the Tigers, dropping them down into the loser’s bracket where they’ll await the winner of the Utah Grays and KC Dirt Dogs. Whoever climbs out to face the Mudcats will needed two victories, starting at 11:30 on Klumker Field at Howelsen Hill, over Oklahoma to claim the title on Sunday.
In the Christie Peak bracket, Kings Baseball Black slipped by the Houston Pioneers, 5-4, to advance to the championships. The Pioneers, looking for a rematch, will have to win a loser’s bracket semifinal over the winner of Phenom Texas and the SoCal Bombers. Slated for 11:30 a.m. Sunday morning, the title match can be found at the North Field at Ski Town.
Rounding out the 11u division, Montebello Mayhem have scored a combined 22 runs in its last two games, securing a spot in the Yampa Valley bracket championship. The Colorado Outlaws will welcome the winner of the Fast .45’s and the Roaring Fork Dragons with the victor taking on the Mayhem later Sunday afternoon. The championship game is scheduled for 11:30 a.m. on the South Field at Ski Town.
Check out the 11u brackets (HERE)
Team Colorado-Altitude has proven themselves kings of the 13u Championship bracket so far. Altitude claimed its spot in the title game via a 7-2 win over in-state rival Colorado Naturals and a 17-2 semifinal effort against the Saddleback Cowboys. The Cowboys, hoping for a rematch against Team Colorado, will face the winner between Millard Elite and River Bandits early Sunday morning. The championship matchup is set for noon on Adams Field at Howelsen Hill.
Scoring double digit totals in each of its last two games, the Menifee Yard Dogs have claimed a spot in the Christie Peak bracket championship. They’ll face the winner of the Lubbock Raiders and either Baseball West Coast or South Bay Hustle. The two championship teams will go toe-to-toe at noon on Simillion Field at Howelsen Hill.
Coming away with a win in a 16-15 slugfest, the Utah Horns have secured the right to play for the 13u Yampa Valley Bracket championship. Team No Fear awaits a 9:45 a.m Sunday morning game against the Evoshield Canes or the Saddleback Cowboys-Grey. Slated for noon, the championship game can be found on Vanatta Field at Howelsen Hill.
Check out the 13u brackets (HERE)
#Jaydenstrong displays proudly and prominently on the backs of the 13u Team Colorado – Altitude Baseball team.
Jayden Brown, one of Altitude’s strongest arms on its pitching staff, was struck by a line drive three weeks ago and has spent much of the time since recovering in the hospital. Friday, with the team only two wins away from a championship appearance in the Triple Crown World Series in Steamboat Springs, Colo., Brown made the trip into the mountains to give his team a boost of morale.
“It was a special moment,” said head coach Gene Macias. “He’s one of our guys and it breaks your heart to see a kid at that age have to go through something like this. He definitely brought another level of energy to the boys, and it was nice to see him being loose and having fun with his friends.”
Pumped up and ready to go Saturday, Team Colorado knocked down one its biggest rivals in the Colorado Naturals, 7-3, and followed up that performance with a 17-2 victory to reach the 13u championships on Sunday.
“Coming out this morning, focus was definitely on our game with the Naturals,” said Zander Reese. “We wanted to make sure that everyone knew we were the big boys in the state of Colorado, and we came out ready to go and did what we needed to do.”
After claiming the quarterfinal battle of Colorado, Altitude faced a tough squad out of California in the Saddleback Cowboys. Early in the contest, both teams proved their prowess with mirror 1-2-3 first innings.
In the second inning, Team Colorado’s offense exploded. What started with a harmless double turned into seven base hits, three walks and 10 total runs. A large chunk of that production came from Reese, who in his two at-bats in the inning delivered with a single, double and three RBI.
“This has been a really unique team,” said Macias. “All these kids have contributed in some way or another. It’s been really fun to watch them develop, especially in the last third of the season.
“It’s something that we tell the kids all the time. It doesn’t matter where you hit in the lineup, when it’s your turn, just go out there and perform. They’ve been able to do that all tournament long.”
Pitching perfect first and second innings, Carson Koenen strutted out to the mound in the third with his newfound 10-run lead. Though Koenen wouldn’t record any strikeouts on the afternoon, his pitch-to-contact mentality allowed his defense to do the work. Pyreese Miller, Team Colorado’s centerfielder, was one of those defenders at work early and often. Along with making a spectacular diving catch, Miller added four more putouts to help his pitcher keep a clean sheet.
“In the outfield, we wanted to make sure there was no chance that they would get any hits,” said Miller. “At the end of the day, we just wanted to get back on offense as quick as we could.”
As one of Miller’s patented putouts led to a scoreless third inning for the Cowboys, the Altitude offense wasted no time taking advantage of another offensive opportunity. Reese Chapman struck the blow with an RBI single, stretching Colorado’s lead, 11-0.
Saddleback answered with two runs of its own in the fourth inning. Connor and Cole Dietch continued to stay hot in the tournament, both coming through with RBI base hits.
Sensing victory close at hand, Altitude quickly came to the plate looking to ice the contest in the fourth inning. Tucker more started things off with a single and the snowball continued to grow from there. Miller even added a three-run monster home run to left field.
“I saw a fastball down the middle,” explained Miller. “I turned on it, and fortunately it went over the fence.”
Two more runs would come across during the fourth inning and with a 15-run margin the run rule came into effect, advancing Team Colorado into Sunday’s championship game.
“I think it shows you how far Colorado baseball has come,” said Macias. “Just a couple years ago, you might’ve only seen one team in the top bracket. Now, with us, the Slammers and the Naturals all competing at a high level, it makes you proud to represent the state.”
Team Colorado will enjoy a much-earned reprieve. They’ll await a challenger for the 13u to emerge after Sunday morning’s final loser’s bracket games. In the meantime, the team will rest up and focus on channeling Jayden Brown’s positive energy for a championship moment.
“This one would be pretty big,” said Miller. “Our team hasn’t won that many tournaments this year and to finish off the summer with one would be a perfect ending.”
Back in November of 2016, the Kings Baseball Black and Houston Pioneers 11u teams met each other on a cold day in Texas, with the Kings holding on for a one-run victory.
Eight months later, the teams had their paths cross again, in the Christie Peak bracket of the Triple Crown 11u World Series in Steamboat Springs, Colo. It might just be that these programs, who faced each other commonly when they were playing 8u and 9u, are destined to play nailbiters, because they had another one Saturday – a 5-4 victory by the Kings that ended when they finally doused a two-out rally by the Pioneers in the bottom of the sixth inning.
The win keeps the Kings moving in the upper half of the bracket; they will face the team that emerges from the loser’s half on Sunday at Ski Town North, needing just one more victory to claim the bracket title.
Saturday, the Kings trailed 2-1 after four innings, took a 3-2 lead after six and plated two more runs in the top of the sixth. They needed every bit of offense, as the Pioneers used two hits, two walks and an error to make it more than interesting.
“All year, we’ve trained to be mentally tough in crucial situations. We felt like we had the right pitcher in to get the job down, and we were going to trust our defense to work behind him,” said Kings coach Wyndell Hamilton, referencing the relief work of Michael Wright, who worked the fifth and sixth innings.
The defense played great in the fifth, with Reed Hubble and Jack Hubble both making nice plays, but an error in the sixth opened the door for the Pioneers. With a 5-2 lead, Wright did get a flyout and strikeout, but with two on, Javier Rodriguez smacked a single that brought in both runners to make it 5-4.
Two walks later, the bases were loaded, but Wright got a harmless popout to second base, and the game was tucked away amid a lot of relieved smiles.
“I wanted to pump strikes, keep pumping strikes until we got out of the inning,” Wright said. “I was getting nervous. But we have improved a lot.”
The Kings got two huge insurance runs in the sixth, on an inside-the-park home run from Daniel Garcia and a double from Parker Smith. Jack Hubble and Hudson Hamilton each had crucial two-out RBI singles in the fifth inning as well.
“On my at-bat where I got the home run, I was thinking, I’m going to put my team in the lead. And then I hit that home run,” said Garcia, who reached base three times. “I was trusting Michael and the defense to do the right thing and get us out of that (late) situation.”
“We felt Michael would get us some pop flys or ground balls, and we trust the work we’ve put in since the beginning of the year to get us in the championship game,” coach Hamilton added. “From the beginning of the year, we’ve said the team is most important – the individual makes the team, and the team makes the individual successful. We’re glad to be in the championship.”
Sometimes, a double-elimination format like the Triple Crown 11u World Series requires teams to play multiple games in a day as they claw back through the loser’s bracket.
For the Phenom Texas squad, the schedule broke more favorably, as they had just one contest Saturday, taking on HB Total Baseball (CA) in a late-afternoon matchup that fed the lower half of the Christie Peak bracket in Steamboat Springs, Colo. And while stress levels and pressure mounted for three innings, it all drained away as Phenom scored 11 runs in the fourth inning to secure a 13-3 run-rule victory and move forward.
They will meet the SoCal Bombers on Sunday morning, still on a path to reach the bracket final later in the day by winning two more games.
The Phenom used 10 singles, a couple of errors and a walk to fuel their huge inning, actually coming back from a 3-2 deficit.
“We had good pitching and hit great,” said Paxton Samuelson, who pitched four tidy innings and also had two hits and two runs scored. “I was just thinking, throw strikes and get ground balls … let my team make some plays behind me. We just said, the hardest team to beat is the one having the most fun.”
Collin Blackstock reached on an error in the first, stole second and came home on Blake Lindsay’s single to bring in Phenom’s first run; Samuelson had a two-out double in the third and was brought home by Blackstock’s single. In the huge fourth inning, the team made just one out before the run rule was reached.
“We started off in a good spot, kept fighting, and put our foot on their neck and twisted,” said Lindsay, who along with Parker Bowman and William Nester drove in two runs. “We’re not trying to do too much, just get out there and play a good game of baseball. That was probably some of the best pitching we had all year with Paxton.”
Phenom coach Dusty DeFury said his team had an untimely struggle in pool play, enough to keep them from reaching the bracket of the top 16, but there’s been no sulking or head-hanging by his roster. The main emphasis is on ending a long season that started in February with a bunch of positive memories.
“We had a really good game against a good team from California yesterday, 13-11 or so, and it takes a lot to play this many games,” DeFury said. “Luckily, all 11 of our guys can pitch, so we have a lot left and have a shot at getting back and winning this thing. Once we get through the lineup, and they see the same guy again, they start teeing off. We are a really good hitting team.
“Paxton is a great pitcher, a very deceptive lefty. He’s always right around the zone and our defense played well, too.”
Three consecutive games on Friday would not faze the 11u Oklahoma Mudcats team that played seven straight at a tournament in early April. Even a seven-run deficit was brushed aside as the Mudcats advanced into the semi-finals of the Triple Crown World Series in Steamboat Springs, Colo., beating the Wichita Falls Buffs, 13-10.
A 5-4 win over the El Monte Dukes and an 8-4 victory over the OC Hawks left Oklahoma just one win away from a perfect day of baseball. The only obstacle that stood in its way was the 16-seeded Buffs team that had already pulled off upsets over the No. 1 and No. 9 seeds.
“We knew we had a tough road today,” said head coach Shawn Norman. “We knew we were going to face three good teams no matter who they were going to be. One thing about our club all year long is we’ve been down and we’ve been up.
“You have to learn how to play with a lead and learn how to play from behind. These kids always keep the task at hand.”
After a classic 1-4-6-3 double play ended the top of the first inning, the Mudcats offense went right to work in the bottom half. Cooper Frazee led the inning off with a single, eventually coming around to score off an RBI single from Kellen Frizzell.
Everything changed in the second inning. Wichita strung together eight base hits, one triple and eight total runs, leapfrogging Oklahoma, 8-1.
Just as Norman has instructed his youngsters all year long, the even-keeled Mudcats began to claw its way back. Easton Costa kicked things off in the third inning, coming around to score on a double from Mason Novotny.
“I just wanted to go up there and get a base hit,” said Costa. “We needed runs but we needed base runners first.”
A third double in the inning from B.K. Ferris plated a third run. Ferris would also score on a passed ball, giving Oklahoma four runs in the inning, closing the gap, 8-5.
Wichita responded with a run of its own in the top of the third inning making it 9-5 in favor of the away side. However, the singular run was not enough to stop the momentum brewing for the Mudcats.
Frizzell answered with a second base hit of the contest, allowing Costa to bring him in two batters later. Four more runs tied the game at nine, resetting the matchup with three innings to go.
“It was just one base at a time really,” said Cash Williams, who finished the game 1-2 with a hit-by-pitch and a triple. “That’s all we had to do to get ourselves back in the game.”
Again the Buffs struck first, pushing across its 10th run to take the lead., but Williams and company weren’t about to throw away the game that they had just spent so much time getting back into.
With a runner on first, Williams turned on the perfect pitch, sending the ball to the base of the 292-foot fence marker in left field. His triple tied up the game at 10 and had him mere feet away from the Mudcats’ first lead since it was 1-0.
“I honestly saw a watermelon that I smacked,” said Williams. “I don’t think I can hit it much further than 292 right now, but that was a shot.”
Frizzell wasted no time driving in Williams, delivering with an RBI single in the next at-bat. Three batters later, Costa provided some insurance, sending Frizzell home with single of his own.
Oklahoma quickly dissipated any hopes of a comeback in the fifth inning with a 1-2-3 effort and added a 13th run in the bottom half of the frame before time ran out, solidifying the Mudcats’ spot in the 11u semifinals.
“Our ability to score so quickly has really surprised me,” said Norman. “It’s been a huge advantage for us to turn it on when we need to and that really helped us get the win today.”
The Mudcats will face a talented Dallas Tigers-Bergman team that has also yet to surrender a game in the 2017 World Series.
“Winning this championship would mean a lot to us,” said Costa. “We’ve all worked really hard and it would be a perfect end to our summer.”
When his team plated its 15th run of the game, and it still wasn’t enough to move ahead, you had to wonder if the rally magic might not last through Chris Courrege’s at-bat in the bottom of the seventh inning Friday at the Triple Crown 13u World Series.
At that point, the Bombers Baseball Club (CA) held a 17-15 edge over the Dallas Tigers-Hernandez with two outs, with the Tigers still clinging to life after an infield error by the Bombers just ahead of Courrege. With a 3-0 count and the greenest of lights to make something happen, Courrege did it with style, launching a home run to left-center field for the final runs in a crazy, chaotic 19-17 victory in Steamboat Springs, Colo.
Even if all this happened in the second bracket (the Tigers were the No. 17 seed after pool play, and the Bombers were No. 25), there was no denying the entertainment value.
“It was a 3-0 count, and I knew he would throw it right down the middle. So, I just hit it,” Courrege said. “I just believe in our team, and we kept fighting.”
To say the least – the Tigers stayed in range with five runs in the third and another in the fourth, pulling within 14-11 and getting impressive relief work from pitcher C.J. Rice, who retired nine in a row before the Bombers touched him for three runs in the sixth.
In their final at-bats, the Tigers got hits from Dominic Reid, Braeden Larsen and Taylor Hervey, and a walk to Rice helped cut the deficit to 17-15. Kai Paul reached on that error, and Courrege closed the discussion with his no-doubt blast.
“We stayed in it as a team and were focused. Our pitchers helped us a lot,” said Larsen, who hit a three-run homer in the third and closed with five RBI. “The past few tournaments, I’ve been struggling a bit, but I tried to go up there with confidence and know I can do this … see the ball hit the bat.
“I said to myself, ‘oh my gosh this is really happening’ (on the grand slam). It was thrilling, it was amazing.”
The Bombers looked to have done enough in the sixth after one-out hits from Jacob Young and Matt Jessen and a walk to Connor Yang. Jessen scored from third on a double steal for the team’s final run, and in the bottom of the sixth Rice walked and scored to again keep the Tigers in the neighborhood.
“You try to put them in the best place to succeed, and it’s just great watching them get that extra hit. When we were down seven runs early, I told the kids to scrap,” said Tigers coach Izaac Yarbrough, who just finished his college career at Auburn and has been coaching club baseball for about four months. “Before Chris went up to bat, I said, this is why we play. Bases loaded, seventh inning, two outs … this is why this is one of the greatest games. It’s great seeing the feedback from the kids.
“C.J. is our centerfielder, our leadoff hitter, and he pitches when needed. A soft-throwing lefty can be really effective; I was one myself in college. He wanted to pitch, and you can’t always teach that, how they will love the moment and be happy to be there.”
For the Bombers, Young had four hits and four RBI; Cole McGowan had two triples and a double and knocked in three runs.
It was business as usual for the 13u Colorado Naturals at the Triple Crown World Series in Steamboat Springs, Colo. After knocking off the Michigan Blue Jays, 11-5, in the first matchup of the morning, the Naturals bats continued to stay hot, defeating EBA Baseball, 13-2.
“We played two really good teams this morning,” said head coach Tyler Wagner. “When you get into bracket play, these are the top 16 teams in the tournament. Every game you play is going to be a dog fight.
“I was happy the way we swung the bats and happy with our pitching. If we continue to play good defense and pitch well, we’re going to have a good chance.”
Starting pitcher Jake Olguin-Pacheco did not disappoint in his appearance. Right out the gate, Olguin-Pacheco racked up two quick strikeouts and added a third in the second inning to keep EBA quiet and gave his offense a chance to do its work.
“Today I was able to locate well and hit my spots,” said Olguin-Pacheco. “It’s nice to work with Tony (Padilla) because he frames my pitches really nicely.”
On top of captaining Olguin-Pacheco through a sensational day on the bump, it was Padilla who kick-started the bulk of the scoring for the Naturals in the third inning.
The first time through the lineup, EBA kept Colorado relatively at bay, surrendering only a single run via an RBI single from Olguin-Pacheco that scored Liam Mateo-Daly. In his second plate appearance, Padilla seemed to have calculated the proper adjustments, leading off the inning with a moonshot of a home run to deep right field.
“I thought I had some of the pitcher’s body language figured out by that second at-bat,” said Padilla. “When I got the sign I was looking for, I turned on the right pitch.”
Floodgates began to pour open for the Naturals as base hits began to pile up. Andrew Godfrey even matched Padilla with a home run of his own, this one a two-run shot to left field. By inning’s end, Colorado had seized control of the contest, 6-0.
EBA countered quickly, though, making use of a hit-by-pitch in its first at-bat and back-to-back doubles to plate two runs and chip away at the Naturals’ lead.
Undeterred, the Naturals responded with vigor, batting around for the second time in as many innings.
“Hitting is contagious,” said Padilla. “Once we started tying a couple of hits together, everyone started to get in on the party.”
Colorado’s party didn’t stop until seven more runs crossed the plate, giving the Naturals a commanding 13-2 lead.
“In a four-run game anything can happen,” said Wagner. “I couldn’t have been more proud of the way we responded. We did what we had to do, took control and kind of took their heart out of it.”
Olguin-Pacheco needed only three more outs to claim the team’s second victory of the day. Even though he walked the second batter, his defense picked him up with a 6-4-3 double play to end the game, 13-2.
“Pitching with a lead is so much fun,” said Olguin-Pacheco. “When I know all I have to do is throw strikes, it becomes a lot easier.”
The Naturals advance to the quarterfinals of the 13u division, facing another Centennial State team in Colorado Altitude Baseball. First pitch of the in-state battle is slated for 7:30 a.m. at Simillion Field at Howelsen Hill.
As one might expect with all the talented teams vying for the title at the Triple Crown 11u World Series, upsets were part of the programming when bracket play began in Steamboat Springs, Colo.
In fact, the top two seeds lost their first games Friday, sending them into a potentially long journey through the loser’s bracket. By the time the winner’s bracket was whittled to two teams, it was seeds No. 5 (Oklahoma Mudcats) and No. 6 (Dallas Tigers-Bergman) left standing, with the Tigers wrapping up a long day with a 10-0 run-rule victory over the Saddleback Cowboys Black (CA).
With a 6-2 win over the Utah Devils and a 9-3 victory against the Stix Black (TX), the Tigers looked balanced and confident, knowing a win against the Mudcats on Saturday (1:30 p.m., Vanatta Field) puts them on the doorstep of the championship.
“I’m really proud of our pitchers today. Great pitching is a great equalizer, and I’m just real proud of the boys today,” said Tigers coach Brett Bergman. “We are definitely here for baseball. This place is amazing, and you get a little vacation in, but we came here for a reason. We want to win the championship.”
Against the Cowboys, the Tigers jumped ahead 6-0 after one inning; a two-run double from Caleb Hoover was notable, and two other runs came across on bases-loaded hit batters. Trent Bower added a finishing-touch two-run double in the third inning.
“I’m feeling good – we beat some really good teams. We’ve played good, hit good, fielded good – I think that will get us to the championship, and win it,” said Bower, who pitched four innings of shutout ball, scattering four hits and not allowing a runner past second base. “I haven’t had a hit in a while, and luckily I got it and was able to get to second. I wanted to throw strikes and pitch to contact, let the infield do their work because they have my back.”
“I was thinking, how can I help the team, and I saw a pitch I liked and put the barrel to the ball,” Hoover added. “Baseball is really fun, never gets old for me, so playing this much isn’t that hard. Colorado’s weather is a lot better than Texas, so we went out there and played our brand of baseball.
“Trent gives it everything he has when he’s hitting or pitching, and I think he did a great job today.”