By Thomas Hoffman
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, Colo. – The Dallas Texans have won four games in the 2019 13u Elite Triple Crown World Series, but none have meant more than its 8-7 thrilling victory over rival Dallas Tigers on Friday. In a game that featured four lead changes and three ties, Drew Smith’s walk-off single was the difference.
“You just have to stay strong in a game like that,” said Brady Luff. “You have to continuously fight back and believe you can do it.”
Coming off a 15-7 win over the Colorado Elite, the Tigers’ offense picked up where it left off, striking for two early runs off four consecutive hits to open up the contest. Texans starting pitcher Kayden Bradshaw did well to right the ship, halting the damage and blanking the Tigers in the second.
So began the first of several comebacks for the Texans.
Zachary Pearrow’s RBI double scored Smith in the home half of the first inning. One full frame later, the Texans drew level when Garrett Hendricks’ grounder allowed Caleb Watkins to scamper home.
Even when the Tigers retook the lead in the third inning off a couple of Texan miscues, head coach Dillon Smith and company vaulted right back on top with RBI singles from Luff and Watkins.
“It’s what you try to teach them day after day,” coach Smith said. “I don’t think we played our best game today, and when that happens you have to fight and keep grinding. We work too hard all summer for us not to keep battling. It showed a lot of their character as a team.”
Momentum seemed to be in the Texans’ favor when Bradshaw scored to give his team its largest lead of the game through four innings, 5-3. However, the fifth would be a different story.
Despite recording the first two outs of the inning, the Tigers stayed alive with a single and walk, turning the lineup back over to leadoff hitter Aidan Viels. With tensions rising, Viels connected on a fastball, launching a three-run home run to recapture the lead for the Tigers, 6-5.
Smith and company waited until the bottom of the sixth inning to mount another charge. By the time Kuff stepped into the batter’s box, there were already two outs and two runners on base.
“The first few pitches I was pulling out, trying to go yard,” Luff said. “It was 0-2, so I was just looking for a fastball to take up the middle.”
Luff did a little more than he hoped. His clutch double scored two, giving the lead back to the Texans, 7-6.
The Tigers were just as eager to steal a win from its Lone Star State compatriots. Another two-out clutch performance tied the game at seven, sending the contest into a dramatic bottom of the seventh inning.
An error, a Bradshaw single and a Layton Nalley walk set the stage for Drew Smith. Missing on curveballs all week long, Smith would make no mistake this time, squeezing out a single and capturing the win in walk-off style.
“I was actually kind of nervous,” Smith said. “I was trying to hit one out the first time. I’m not going to lie. I just choked up, tried to put one in play and finally hit a curveball.”
“Drew is probably the most resilient kid we have. He’s always smiling,” said coach Smith. “He made a pretty bad play in the sixth inning when he got picked off. To be able to come back in the next inning with a smile on his face and come up with the big hit says a lot about who that kid is.”
The Texans will go toe-to-toe with another Texas-based squad when they face Lubbock Baseball Academy in the 13u Elite quarterfinals. The matchup is set for Saturday at 10:15 a.m.
“We’ve been rolling the whole tournament,” Luff said with a grin. “Why stop now?”