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.