By Thomas Hoffman
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, Colo. – After giving his team two weeks off, head coach Kele Evans and the Colorado Crushers needed to shake the rust off before finding its groove at the 13u Triple Crown World Series. Following a 13-2 loss to the El Monte Dukes, Colorado rebounded with two resounding wins over Colorado Shield, 7-0, and the North Texas Marauders, 22-7.
“We were definitely rusty in that first game against a really good team out of California,” said Evans. “Late in the second game, we really got our bats going and it carried over to our next game. It was nice to see because we’re a good hitting club and it was nice to get going.”
Both the Crushers and North Texas cruised through the opening frame at Vannatta Field. In the top of the second inning, however, the Crushers found the right mix of patience and precision at the plate. Eighteen total batters came to the plate in the inning as Colorado tallied a monstrous thirteen runs.
“I was just swinging at good pitches,” said Blake Cowgill, who finished 2-3 with a single, a double, a walk, two runs scored and an RBI on the afternoon. “We started a bit slow this week and now we’re picking it up.”
Colorado didn’t need to flex its power to put up the big number. The Crushers’ patience paved the way to five walks. Only Ryan Brady and Brady Snow managed extra-base hits.
“They were throwing a lot of strikes up there,” Brady explained. “Collectively, we were just jumping on top and hitting it hard.”
Refusing to quit, North Texas responded with three runs in the bottom of the second, keeping the chance of a comeback alive.
The hot bats of Colorado would not cool, though. Seven more runs crossed the plate in the top of the third inning, creating an almost insurmountable amount of separation between the two squads.
“It’s baseball. You have ups and downs but you have to be resilient,” Evans said. “It’s not just this week. It’s been all season. We really pride ourselves in not getting down and staying in the fight."
Coach Evans didn’t just get a stellar performance from the offense. Defensively, Colorado began to lock down North Texas as the game wore on. Ryan Brady, who pitched one and two-thirds innings, gave up just one run and struck out three, all while making sure his team was on track for a decisive victory.
“The umpire had a pretty tight zone but they weren’t really swinging at anything,” said Brady. “So I just told myself to throw a lot of first-pitch strikes and get ahead.”
Adding two more runs in the top of the fourth, Colorado stretched its lead to 22-4. With Aiden Sporrer’s double, the Crushers also made sure each of its 12 players on the roster recorded a hit in the contest.
As the two-hour time limit expired in the bottom end of the inning, the Marauders managed to plate three runs but the late rally stopped short when Colorado forced North Texas into a fielder’s choice to seal the victory, 22-7.
“I think we’ve been pretty fired up since our second game yesterday,” Brady said. “We played a Colorado team that we knew really well and we really didn’t want to lose. We’ve just kept that same mentality since then.”
Earning the No. 7 overall seed in the 13u Platinum bracket, Colorado will begin its campaign through the bracket on Friday morning against the very Colorado Shield team that prompted its offensive explosion.
“We just need to get back at it and keep the intensity,” said Cowgill.