By Kyle Koso
GYPSUM, Colo. – An error in youth baseball can open the door for big trouble, so the Crush Baseball-Gruner squad had reason to be wary at the start of Saturday’s game in the Triple Crown 10uD1 World Series in Vail Valley.
An infield miscue allowed the leadoff hitter for the Colorado Prospects to reach first base, but starting pitcher Dale Baptista promptly picked off the runner to reset the mood at the Gypsum Sports Complex. That was about it for drama as the Crush went on to post a 13-3 run-rule victory to advance to Sunday’s title game, and with the double-elimination format the Crush have two chances to call up a championship effort.
Baptista allowed one run in his three innings of work, stranding a runner at third in his final two frames and looking not once bothered by any pressure in the moment.
“I was just trying to keep the hitters off balance, get outs and throw strikes,” said Baptista, who also had an RBI double and a run in the second inning. “After the error I was a little mad, but when I picked him off, I was a lot happier. It feels good to pick off somebody.”
“We tell the guys all the time, just get the out somewhere, and try to pick each other up,” said coach Dan Gruner. “Somebody makes an error, someone else can pick him up, and they’ve been doing that well.”
In the bottom of the first, the Crush jumped ahead, 2-0, on a home run from Lincoln Cauthron, and then the offense authored the big low with seven runs in the second. Cauthron had an RBI double in the mix, with other hits coming from Fernando Banda, Noah Vazquez, Aiden Ceo, Tyler Friberg, Eli Armenta and Baptista.
Fueled by four walks, the Crush added four runs in the third, with Cauthron getting one more RBI on a sacrifice fly.
“I’ve been early on a lot of (pitches), but I’ve been working on trying to sit back and in this tournament I’ve done that well,” he said. “(Baptista) did a good job; we really needed that today. In our warmups, we are not goofing off. We are trying to stay focused with the right mentality.
“We’ve had our fair share of rough patches, but right now the boys are very dialed in,” Gruner said. “They’ve been working hard, with a good mental approach on both sides of the ball, and that’s really helping. They are becoming smart baseball players.”
The title game is set for 10 a.m. tomorrow, with the if-necessary game coming immediately afterward.