By Thomas Hoffman
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, Colo. – Despite hailing from Southern California, the El Monte Dukes didn’t need time to adjust to the thin mountain air of Colorado. Bats in hand, the Dukes put up double-digit run totals in two of its three pool play games, including a 25-8 victory over Building Champions-Olson.
“We’ve just been playing good all around,” said head coach Jorge Almeda. “Our pitching has been good all around, the defense has been on and our hitting is just starting to come around.”
It didn’t take long for El Monte to flex its power. The Dukes’ cleanup hitter Malaki Pelayo stepped to the plate in the top of the opening frame with two runners already aboard. Wasting little time, Pelayo rocketed a two-run shot over the fence, setting the tone early.
“I was trying to hit for power,” explained Pelayo. “I was just trying to work line drives. Their pitchers were hitting their spots inside. I just made a good swing on one.”
Two batters later, Ernesto Garcia matched Pelayo’s effort with a home run of his own, launching one over the right-field fence.
“I was honestly just trying to get on base,” Garcia said. “He threw one down the middle and I jumped on it.”
Watching six total cross the plate in the top half of the first, Building Champions were determined to mount a similar effort in the bottom half. Sending eight players to the batter’s box, Building Champions managed four runs to pull within two, 6-4.
However, El Monte kept the pedal to the metal offensively. The second inning saw 13 runs for the Dukes, highlighted by a second home run from Garcia and a three-run shot from Victor Morales.
“We always hit pretty well as a group,” Almeda said. “Of course, the thin air up here compared to California helps, too.”
Building Champions put up its second consecutive four-spot in the bottom of the second inning but despite all its offensive success, the Kansas City natives still trailed, 19-8.
For El Monte, remaining focused on the task at hand became the primary objective.
“It’s crucially important to stay focused, especially in pool play,” said Almeda. “Every run matters when you’re going for that top seed, and we really wanted that top seed.”
Relief pitcher Justin Cardenas made sure the 11-run advantage remained intact during the middle parts of the contest, allowing the offense to put up six more in the top of the fourth to stretch the El Monte margin, 25-8.
By the time the bottom end of the fourth inning came around, the Dukes needed just three outs to secure its win as the two-hour time limit passed by.
Almeda turned to Victor Morales to finish out an already successful afternoon for El Monte. The hard-throwing right-hander surrendered two walks but fanned three Building Champions batters to close out the game.
“Like I said, our pitching has been spot on,” Almeda said. “Everyone we’ve thrown out there has been able to do what we’ve asked them to do.”
The impressive victory earned El Monte exactly what it was looking for, the No. 1 overall seed in the 13u Platinum Bracket. The Dukes will begin bracket play on Friday afternoon as they await the winner between Ruachis and Bombers Baseball Club Blue.
“We came here to play hard and get the win,” said Pelayo. “We need to stay error-free and keep hitting those pitches over the plate and we’ll be just fine.”
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.
by Kyle Koso
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, Colo. -- No matter the nature of the path, the Rattlers Black 13u baseball team knew their journey at the Triple Crown World Series deserved to end with a shot at the title game in the highest bracket.
There's still work to do, but the Rattlers (CA) showed their intentions with a 24-12 victory over the KC Force (MO) at Strawberry Field on Thursday, closing pool play with a 3-0 record and earning the No. 3 seed of the 10 teams that reside in the Platinum bracket. The Rattlers scored 49 runs in pool play to lead all teams, and the bats were cooking immediately against the Force as 15 runs came across in the top of the first inning.
A total of 19 batters came to the plate in that frame; Justin Heffler hit a long two-run homer in an inning that also featured three doubles and seven walks.
Sure, the Rattlers had hoped to not give up as many runs as they did, and no doubt the coaches will address certain breakdowns. But the big win allowed the team to save its pitching staff and begin to scheme how to tackle the challenges of the Platinum bracket.
"The takeaway is to stay in the game. When you get a lead, you can't get too happy or think you're too good," said Heffler, who also tripled in the fourth and closed the day with three runs from the leadoff spot. "I think our mentality is to bang the baseball and not stop. I swung at a pitch before the homer and missed it, and I tried to make an adjustment, sit on the pitch more and drive it.
"From leadoff, I want to see the pitch and capitalize on any mistakes."
Xavier Farnum pitched two innings for the Rattlers, including the only one where the Force was held scoreless. It was the first appearance of the year on the mound for Farnum, which he backed up with three hits and four RBI while swinging the bat.
"The game was a little weird. A lot of runs were scored, and the other team could have been shut down earlier," Farnum said. "But we did pretty good. I felt pretty good about my pitching, and I've been swinging pretty well this summer, I just try to make contact and put the ball in play."
Kade Gaeir had two hits and three RBI for the Rattlers; Brandon Hermosillo, Rowan Haynes and Colin Riley each drove in two runs. The Force had strong efforts from Jackson Helberg (three hits, two doubles, two runs, two RBI) and Ari Shafton (two hits, a triple, two runs one RBI).
"You score that many runs in the first inning, you change the mentality of how you're playing the game. We weren't anywhere close to survival mode (in terms of using pitchers), so we took some chances with pitchers who aren't normally the go-to guys," said Rattlers coach Dave Zimkin. "Triple Crown monitors the health of the arms, and we appreciate that, and it becomes a chess game.
"We've been working real hard. We do a lot of off-field training, take the field away from them for a while. When we give it back, they appreciate the game more. And when we do something like this (World Series), like when we went to Cooperstown (at 12u), it makes for very special memories for the boys."
The Force ended up seeded No. 17 and will play in the Gold bracket, also starting Friday.
13u ELITE DIVISION -- The Dallas Texans-Nalley wrapped up pool play with the No. 1 seed in the 13u Elite, with the Utah Marshalls coming next at No. 2 in the 10-team bracket.
by Kyle Koso
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, Colo. -- You can't just totally ignore the impact of a sobering loss in baseball, although not much is gained carrying it around like a mark of shame.
For the Building Champions-Navy 13u squad, Thursday meant getting in the right frame of mind at the Triple Crown World Series after Wednesday closed with a 15-run loss in pool play. On a roster packed with talent and hard-earned skill, a nasty setback like that didn't make much sense, and the Navy regained a sense of order next time out with a 15-4 victory against the Texas Fire at Strawberry Park.
The margin of victory didn't get comfortable until a nine-run outburst in the fifth inning, but BC Navy (MO) did plenty of good work ahead of that. Starting pitcher Davion Harris gave up just two runs in his four innings, working out of trouble nicely when necessary, and he got the scoring started with a difficult swing on a high fastball that launched the ball well over the centerfield fence.
Ronnie Ross Jr. drove in a run in the third to make it 4-0, and his lefty swing made perfectly violent contact with a pitch in the fifth, leading to a skyrocketing two-run homer that announced BC Navy was back on track.
"I had to come back from that last game. I grounded out a bunch of times and had a bad game," said Harris, who also drove in a run in the third inning. "I had to come out strong today. I wanted to just breathe and keep throwing strikes, because I know our defense will take care of it."
"I slept on it a long time, and I just came here today ready to eat," Ross said. "And I did. My first at-bat, they really didn't give me anything to hit, then they brought in another pitcher, and he messed up when he came inside. (Harris) did amazing; today gives us a lot of confidence, but hopefully we stay humble and come away with a 'W.'"
After BC Navy staked out a 6-0 lead, Texas Fire responded with a single by Brittain Urbaniak to lead off the fourth. He came in on a double from Fisher Polydoroff, who went to third on an error and later scored on a sacrifice fly by Lucas Moore.
BC Navy's big blows in the fifth were Ross' homer, a two-run double by Caleb Trulove and a bases-loaded double off the bat of Caden Campbell that finished the scoring.
"After yesterday, you're humbled by every experience, and you'll have losses. It's all about how you respond," said BC Navy coach Jamie Oakes. "We had a team dinner and got our mojo back, and I told them to compete on every pitch. And get emotions to a high octave and stay there the whole game. I've coached in this age group for 20 years, and that's arguably one of the best games I've seen a 13u team that I've coached play. They hit the ball, and anytime there was a momentum swing, they changed it back."
Caleb Martinez tripled in a run for the Fire in the bottom of the fifth, and he scored on an error.
The BC Navy finished just out of the mix for the Platinum bracket at 13u; they are the 11th seed and will begin Gold bracket play Friday at 11:30 a.m. The Fire ended up with the No. 18 seed.
by Kyle Koso
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, Colo. -- In a game where 27 runs are ultimately scored, it seems crazy to linger over opportunities that didn't work out, but you might extend a little grace to the Inland Valley Venom 13u Elite squad.
The Venom hit into four double plays Wednesday against Mojo Baseball, which threatened to send the Venom (CA) toward a disappointing finish to Day 1 of the Triple Crown World Series. But as the Mojo (OK) labored to find the right answer in terms of relief pitching, the Venom put across five runs in the bottom of the sixth inning and eked out a 14-13 victory at Simillion Field.
The Venom went 2-0 on the day, posting a 14-6 win over the Dallas Tigers earlier. In Game 2, both teams scored seven runs in the first two innings as fielding miscues and powerful at-bats drove the action.
In the top of the fifth, Stratton White singled with two outs to put Mojo up, 10-9, and three more runs were scored by Mojo in the sixth, all with two outs. In fact, the Venom had a runner picked off for what should have been the third out, but an errant throw led to a run and kept Mojo afloat, with the final two runs also coming across on yet another error.
The Venom could have been sunk emotionally at that point, having already hit into double plays as well in the first, second, fourth and fifth innings. After a flyout to start the sixth, the Venom put together four straight hits and plated the tying run when Eli Guzman was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded -- it was the third HBP for Guzman on the day.
Finally, Bradley Gilbert finished it off -- he swung absolutely as hard as he could and missed, then waited on a pitch and smoked one into the right-center gap for the game-winner.
"I was thinking, all it takes is a good attitude to have a good hit. You have to stay mentally prepared," said Gilbert, who had four singles and a walk, driving in four runs overall. "I got up and thought, let's just end this with a walk-off ... and I did. It was frustrating today, but you could see in the last inning, we got it started."
One example of the Venom's tenacity was Nevin Zerbe, who hit into two double plays and faced a key at-bat in the sixth. After taking some high pitches and looking a bit uncomfortable, he drilled a pitch to centerfield to drive in two critical runs as the Venom rallied.
"I hadn't been doing very well all day, and I was hitting everything on the ground," Zerbe said. "I was going to keep trying, and I wasn't that mad about the double plays. I just forgot about it and knew I'd get a chance later on. This game shows that we won't stop fighting when we are down."
"Nevin has one of the best batting eyes on the team, so when an umpire calls a strike when he thinks it's a ball, it bothers him. For all the players, I tell them you can't mentally check out at that point," said Venom coach Chad Zerbe. "You still have a job to do. I try to keep them all in the game, whether it's an error, a bad pitch ... you have to be engaged. Nevin didn't break down, he knew he had one more strike, and he got a fastball and drove it.
"Bradley will show his emotions, but for the most part, he's a calm, cool and collected kid. He handles pressure very well, and in that situation he knew what he had to do. The first pitch, he came out of his shoes on the swing, and I get that. Then he tightened it up and got a pitch he could handle for the game-winner."
Mason Swogger and Korbin Fickett each had a run, two hits and two RBI for the Venom; Guzman and Dylan Buzard each scored three times. Diesel Toth reached base on three walks and a single. Daxtyn Clark had a bases-loaded triple for Mojo.
by Thomas Hoffman
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, Colo. – Trailing twice in a game against BTL Hornets-Porta, Laguna Lightning responded valiantly, claiming its second straight win, 8-6, to open the 2019 13u Triple Crown World Series.
“That was a big win,” said head coach Dave Dopf. “We had to come from behind twice and we did. Our guys were just resilient. I can’t say enough about this team. Every single member of this team is important and it showed today.”
Laguna jumped on the board quickly in the opening frame of the contest. Leadoff hitter Dylan LaMaison climbed aboard with a single and scored two batters later on an error from the third baseman.
BTL responded quickly. Two runs from the home side in an inning highlighted by a solo home run from Dallas Keaton vaulted the Hornets to a 2-1 advantage.
In stepped Chase Sutton and the Lightning offense. With Brady Franzini already on first base, Sutton matched Keaton with a home run of his own, propelling Laguna on top, 3-2.
“I was seeing a lot of fastballs,” said Sutton. “At every point in the ballgame, I had faith that our offense was going to do its job and score runs. I was lucky enough to be a part of that today.”
The Lightning added a fourth run in the third inning and appeared to be on cruise control. In the fourth, however, BTL flipped the script.
As five of the first six batters reached safely, the Hornets managed to plate three runs, stunning Laguna and stealing back the lead, 5-4.
“We’re never going to quit,” said Lightning pitcher Wyatt Nichol. “Most teams in that situation are going to be a little down. Our energy was great all afternoon and I think it fueled us until the end.”
BTL and Laguna traded blows in the fifth inning, keeping the Lightning’s deficit at one. Earning the right to bat in the sixth frame, Dopf and company had one last chance to produce something special.
Back-to-back Hornet errors sparked a little life into the Lightning dugout, and a walk from Franzini had tensions on both sides at an all-time high with Sutton striding to the plate for Laguna.
“Coach told me I was going to get a fastball,” Sutton said. “Even though coach told me, I wasn’t really ready for that first one. When I saw the second one outside, though, I just swung.”
Rocketing his second-pitch fastball to the fence, Sutton unloaded the bases for a three-RBI triple.
“Chase is a very athletic kid,” said Dopf. “Every once in a while he’s capable of going out there and doing something special. He’s only 13 years old but played to his potential today.”
Leguna’s job wasn’t over yet. Despite its two-run advantage, the Lightning still needed to shut down BTL one last time to seal the victory. Taking over pitching duties in the fifth inning, Nicholson trotted back out to the mound in the sixth.
“In a moment like that, you really have to lean on your teammates,” Nicholson explained. “Hearing everyone cheering in the dugouts and the stands, I thought to myself, ‘Ok, I really have to get this done.”
A two-out double would be the only blemish on Nicholson’s final stat line Wednesday afternoon. The right-handed calmly collected the game’s final three outs, handing Laguna the 8-6 win.
“I think we just continued to put pressure on their defense all day,” Dopf said. “Even though it was an error that got us going, it was a hard-hit ball and I think it gave us a little spark. One thing led to another and our boys were able to pull off something tremendous.”
Its two wins leave Laguna atop pool D in the 13u Division. The Lightning will look to continue its winning ways against Rauchis on Thursday before the double-elimination bracket begins on Friday.
“Sometimes you have to be a little lucky to win,” said Nicholson. “We were a little lucky today but I think our energy and team chemistry will keep us going the rest of the way.”
by Kyle Koso
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, Colo. -- After tackling two games Wednesday at the Triple Crown World Series, the 13u Bombers Baseball Club was ready to rent out some innertubes and make their way to the Yampa River.
That's as good a place as any to wash off some of the skunky, funky feelings left over from their second win on the day, a 13-12 scramble over the Rawlings Tigers at Vanatta Field. The Bombers (CA) scored 24 runs over the two games but nearly surrendered all of an 11-0 lead against the Tigers (MO), stopping the bleeding just in time as Rawlings scored five times in the top of the sixth inning.
The time limit expired as the Bombers were batting in the bottom of the frame; they looked ready to score again if needed, but everyone was happy to get off the field and not spend too much time agonizing over the details.
"What we touched on was, you're leaving here feeling like you lost the game, but you're still 2-0. You're lucky," said Bombers coach Matt Stykowski, whose team topped Building Champions-Stewart 11-1 earlier. "They'll come back tomorrow a little bit hungrier and focused. You can say it's lucky for us as coaches, because that's something invaluable, where they get fired up without us saying anything."
"You have to remember, you did what was needed to win two games. Now, it's over, flush it, and let's go tubing."
The Bombers scored 10 times in the first inning, getting those runs on six hits, four walks and a hit batter all within the first 12 at-bats. Conversely, the first 12 at-bats for the Tigers resulted in one hit, one walk and four strikeouts, and in the second inning the Tigers went three-up, three-down in four pitches. Given that imbalance, you can see why Bomber fans were looking ahead to the run-rule requirements and maybe hoping for an early arrival at the river.
The Tigers stayed in the fight, however. Asa Martinez doubled in two runs in the fourth, and the team put four more runs across in the fifth. In the sixth, a big two-run double by John Handy made it 13-11, and with two out Luke Allen singled in one more.
Desperate for help from his relieving corps, Stykowski turned to Kaiden Dossa, and he rang up the last batter on a called third strike. Dossa had already helped enormously at the plate, with three hits, two runs and three RBI. He hit a critical two-run single in the fifth, which provided the necessary insurance margin for the Bombers.
"We went up, and we let them come back. We weren't mentally ready for that, and once it came, we were shocked," Dossa said. "It felt great to (do my part), and in some of my at-bats I just tried to hit the ball and not focus on anything else. I feel like, when our whole team does that, we can get a lot of runs and play good baseball. We'll forget about all this and start out fresh the next time."
"Kaiden is what you want as a baseball coach. I don't like to bring kids in without warming up, and they only get eight pitches, but he looked me right in the eye and said, 'I'll stop it,'" Stykowski added. "What else do you want in a 13-year-old. Sometimes we don't give these young men enough credit, and that was very impressive."
The Bombers had eight different players drive in runs. Tyler Buxton drove in two runs, doubled and hit a monster home run to lead off the second inning.
"We had this in the bag and let them come back. I feel like we will be very hungry tomorrow," Buxton said, who as catcher helped guide Dossa through that critical strikeout. "I wanted him to hit his spots, because it was already 1-0 and we were down in the count. I got on the outer half of the plate and hoped he'd hit the spot, which is what he did.
"(Before the home run), he threw a curveball that I really didn't expect. He did the same thing on the third pitch, and I knew it was coming."
Five teams started pool play with 2-0 records; the rest of pool play will take place Thursday, and the top six seeds will get a first-round bye as Friday's bracket play begins.
There’s just a handful of games left to determine the bracket winners at the 2019 Triple Crown World Series in Park City, UT.
The 12u Elite division featured a mild upset, as No. 2 seed Sheets Baseball beat top-seeded Colorado Gold on Wednesday, 14-5. Colorado Gold will play No. 8 MBA Utah Grays on Thursday morning in the loser’s bracket, and the winner of that game will have to beat Sheets Baseball twice in order to win the crown.
In the 12u Platinum bracket, No. 12 Uintah Baseball will face off against No. 14 Texas Edge-Mitcham at 8 a.m. Thursday, with the winner earning a spot in the championship game and needing just one win in two games to claim the crown in the double-elim format. Uintah topped the No. 17 Utah Regulators on Wednesday, 11-5, while the Edge moved past the No. 10 Colorado Warhawks, 6-5. We’ll have to wait and see who comes through the loser’s bracket.
The 12u Gold bracket has Lehi Baseball taking on Viking Select on Thursday morning, with the winner heading to the championship game in one more double-elim finish.
Bracket action has begun at the 2019 TC World Series in Park City, Utah, as the chase begins in earnest to claim the hardware at this 12u championship event.
In the 12u Elite division, eight teams are working their way forward, with the top-seeded Colorado Gold set to meet No. 4 Texas Oilers-FTW Harvard on Wednesday morning. No. 2 Sheets Baseball will face No. 6 Utah Marshalls in the other game on the top half of the bracket.
It’ll be a long haul for any of the four teams out of the loser’s bracket to climb back up, but it’s been done before. Four teams will be left in the mix after Wednesday’s games.
In the Platinum Division (seeds 9-24), four teams are left in the upper half: No. 10 Colorado Warhawks, No. 12 Uintah Baseball, No. 14 Texas Edge-Mitcham and No. 17 Utah Regulators. Nine teams are hoping to make a run in the Gold Division (seeds 25-33).
This marks the 24th year Triple Crown has been playing baseball in Steamboat Springs, which is as trusted and valued a partner as you’ll find when it comes to playing youth sports in a desirous destination.
The World Series is a unique opportunity to play top-notch teams from all around the West and Midwest, with some East Coast action thrown in from time to time. And when you’re away from the fields, there are good times awaiting as well:
River Rafting – With the abundant snowfall and resulting boost to water levels, this is a great year to get on the regional rivers and enjoy that cold mountain splash.
Downtown Steamboat Springs – This little mountain town has everything from big breakfasts to funky lunch spots and crazy diversity come dinnertime. Art galleries, clothing shops and more will keep you engaged as you enjoy a walk around town.
Fish Creek Falls – This gorgeous spot roars in the spring, when ski season snowmelt rushes from Storm Peak into the Yampa River, where water sports enthusiasts test their skills in kayaks, rafts and on standup paddleboards. In summer, the falls is popular with hikers and families.
Zipline – Steamboat Zipline Adventures is hidden away in a valley just minutes from the town of Steamboat Springs. It’s a six-segment zipline adventure with breathtaking views of the mountainous and valley terrain of the Yampa Valley and Flat Top Mountain Range.
Amaze’n Family Fun Park – As a small, privately-owned park, Amaze’n Steamboat Family Fun Park wants to offer the public all the thrills and chills of major parks while also providing a more intimate, close-knit amusement park experience.