by Kyle Koso
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, Colo. -- The 13u Crown City American team had already worked through a big disappointment once on Sunday, so there was no interest in going through that again.
With the 13u Triple Crown World Series on the line, Crown City (CA) jumped ahead early and held on late versus New Level Xtreme-Ringrose on Sunday, claiming the title with a 10-7 victory at Simillion Field after New Level had won the "if" game earlier Sunday in the double-elim format.
After speeding ahead to a 10-0 lead through four innings in Game 2, Crown City spent the rest of the day gnawing on fingernails and fighting off doubt as New Level came back -- first with five runs in the fifth inning, and then plating two in a seventh-inning last-stand thriller.
Reliever Charlie Caruso gave up a home run and back-to-back singles with one out and the score at 10-7. He registered a strikeout on a perfectly placed high fastball, then got fortunate when centerfielder Daniel Ruiz made a difficult catch at the fence for the final out.
Crown City starter Bryan Richman, undersized in comparison to a lot of what you find on 13u rosters, got touched for the runs in the fifth, but he was next to flawless early as his team built a lead. Richman also drove in the team's first run on a bases-loaded bunt, and Caruso pushed the next run across on an infield single.
New Level (WA) made the day exciting at the very start by beating Crown City, 7-4, in Game 1 as Kailand Halstead had two hits and two RBI, with Tristan Ringrose and Stevyn Andrachick each scoring twice.
"They had to come in and beat us twice. We had some arms left, so it was a matter of who would score more runs," said Crown City coach Rolo Avila. "There are really good offensive teams at this tournament, and at the end of the day, that's what the score tells you.
"Bryan has been a go-to guy all year, one of the top three pitchers. He has a big heart, and for his size he takes advantage of his ability. He's a go-getter and wants the ball every time."
Thomas Lieb and Andrew Campana each had three hits and drove in two runs for Crown CIty in Game 2; the offense nearly put it away in the bottom of the sixth by loading the bases with one out. But a flyout and strikeout ended the threat.
In the top of the seventh, Ringrose blasted a long home run to centerfield, and there was no questioning New Level's energy as they rallied. It took all the composure Crown City could uncover to fight them off.
"We were kind of flat the first game; we knew we were the better team and that we needed to hit better," Lieb said. "I'm glad we could win a close game."
Richman worked out of trouble in the second inning, as the bases were loaded with one out before a runner was cut down between home and third. After a groundout, the shutout was intact, and he breezed through the third and fourth innings.
"The first two innings, my curveball, I couldn't throw it for a strike. I had to make some adjustments," Richman said. "My two-seam was good the whole game, and my change-up was a little iffy, but it all worked out. It's nice to know I can strike some of these 6-foot-1 kids out.
"I was getting a little nervous at the end, for sure. I was destroyed in that inning where they scored so many runs. When (Ruiz) made the catch, I was so happy. The other team thought it was a home run, and I was, like, nope."
"We did have those other few arms that were a bit alive and got us through a couple of innings. That's the name of the game, and just score more runs than them," Avila said. "I tell my kids, it's a mental thing, and we go into every tournament to win."
Ringrose had four RBI for New Level in Game 2; in Game 1, Crown City was paced by two-RBI efforts from David Mysza and Isaac Ton.