by Kyle Koso
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, Colo. -- Getting in the right position and escalating their presence were the big early concerns for the Saddleback Cowboys Black baseball team.
With bracket play beginning at the 13u Elite Triple Crown World Series on Friday, the Cowboys had already earned a favorable spot in the mix, while showing plenty of offensive pop along the way. As the stakes grew higher, the Cowboys rose to the moment as well, taking down Warhawks-Dodson by a score of 16-1 at Similliion Field.
The sixth-seeded Cowboys (CA) will face the No. 2-seeded Utah Marshalls on Saturday morning, hoping to press on in the winner's half of the 13u Elite championship chase.
Saddleback jumped ahead with six runs in the top of the first inning Friday, with the Warhawks (CO) minimizing some of the damage by turning an inning-ending double play. In the bottom of the frame, the Warhawks began with a double, walk and RBI single, looking to get right back in the fight. But on the single, two runners ran into outs on the bases, dousing the rally.
Saddleback pushed across four more runs in the top of the second, and starter Ethan Porter then pitched four peaceful innings to close with a three-hitter.
"We swing the bats; we get guys to throw us fastballs, and we like fastballs," said Saddleback coach Wade Jackson, whose team scored 38 runs in three pool play games. "Coming in, our goal was to be in the top six so we didn't have to play two games today, and that's what we did. We knew if we played our game we can beat anyone out here."
Logan de Groot had a double, triple and home run and drove in three runs; Lucas Sarantos homered in the second inning, and Joell Castro launched a home run to lead off the third as the Cowboys began to run away. Porter helped his cause with a bases-loaded double that cleared the bags in the third inning.
"Yesterday, we weren't doing that well, and today we put the bat on the ball. We just came in and didn't really care what seed we were," Porter said. "The double play really hyped me up there. My slider was really working well today; they weren't swinging at it because it started outside then went right over the plate."
"The biggest thing is minimizing (the opponents') runs. We put up six in the first, and if you give three back, it changes the momentum," Jackson added. "Turning the double play was a big moment, then coming back and scoring four more. Ethan Porter threw very well, three hits, attacked the strike zone which is what we expect him to do, especially when we have a lead."
Tyler Covington scored three runs from the leadoff spot and made a sensational catch in centerfield in the third inning. Cole Grey added two singles and two RBI; Jake Lavin also drove in two runs.
"I was just looking for a fastball in my zone, and I saw it," de Groot said about his home run, which lingered in the air before landing well past the leftfield fence. "We kept the energy up and kept swinging. Ethan was great, threw lots of strikes and kept the hitters off balance."
The No. 3-seeded Warhawks will now tackle the loser's half of the bracket, with an 8 a.m. game Saturday at Simillion Field.