#Jaydenstrong displays proudly and prominently on the backs of the 13u Team Colorado – Altitude Baseball team.
Jayden Brown, one of Altitude’s strongest arms on its pitching staff, was struck by a line drive three weeks ago and has spent much of the time since recovering in the hospital. Friday, with the team only two wins away from a championship appearance in the Triple Crown World Series in Steamboat Springs, Colo., Brown made the trip into the mountains to give his team a boost of morale.
“It was a special moment,” said head coach Gene Macias. “He’s one of our guys and it breaks your heart to see a kid at that age have to go through something like this. He definitely brought another level of energy to the boys, and it was nice to see him being loose and having fun with his friends.”
Pumped up and ready to go Saturday, Team Colorado knocked down one its biggest rivals in the Colorado Naturals, 7-3, and followed up that performance with a 17-2 victory to reach the 13u championships on Sunday.
“Coming out this morning, focus was definitely on our game with the Naturals,” said Zander Reese. “We wanted to make sure that everyone knew we were the big boys in the state of Colorado, and we came out ready to go and did what we needed to do.”
After claiming the quarterfinal battle of Colorado, Altitude faced a tough squad out of California in the Saddleback Cowboys. Early in the contest, both teams proved their prowess with mirror 1-2-3 first innings.
In the second inning, Team Colorado’s offense exploded. What started with a harmless double turned into seven base hits, three walks and 10 total runs. A large chunk of that production came from Reese, who in his two at-bats in the inning delivered with a single, double and three RBI.
“This has been a really unique team,” said Macias. “All these kids have contributed in some way or another. It’s been really fun to watch them develop, especially in the last third of the season.
“It’s something that we tell the kids all the time. It doesn’t matter where you hit in the lineup, when it’s your turn, just go out there and perform. They’ve been able to do that all tournament long.”
Pitching perfect first and second innings, Carson Koenen strutted out to the mound in the third with his newfound 10-run lead. Though Koenen wouldn’t record any strikeouts on the afternoon, his pitch-to-contact mentality allowed his defense to do the work. Pyreese Miller, Team Colorado’s centerfielder, was one of those defenders at work early and often. Along with making a spectacular diving catch, Miller added four more putouts to help his pitcher keep a clean sheet.
“In the outfield, we wanted to make sure there was no chance that they would get any hits,” said Miller. “At the end of the day, we just wanted to get back on offense as quick as we could.”
As one of Miller’s patented putouts led to a scoreless third inning for the Cowboys, the Altitude offense wasted no time taking advantage of another offensive opportunity. Reese Chapman struck the blow with an RBI single, stretching Colorado’s lead, 11-0.
Saddleback answered with two runs of its own in the fourth inning. Connor and Cole Dietch continued to stay hot in the tournament, both coming through with RBI base hits.
Sensing victory close at hand, Altitude quickly came to the plate looking to ice the contest in the fourth inning. Tucker more started things off with a single and the snowball continued to grow from there. Miller even added a three-run monster home run to left field.
“I saw a fastball down the middle,” explained Miller. “I turned on it, and fortunately it went over the fence.”
Two more runs would come across during the fourth inning and with a 15-run margin the run rule came into effect, advancing Team Colorado into Sunday’s championship game.
“I think it shows you how far Colorado baseball has come,” said Macias. “Just a couple years ago, you might’ve only seen one team in the top bracket. Now, with us, the Slammers and the Naturals all competing at a high level, it makes you proud to represent the state.”
Team Colorado will enjoy a much-earned reprieve. They’ll await a challenger for the 13u to emerge after Sunday morning’s final loser’s bracket games. In the meantime, the team will rest up and focus on channeling Jayden Brown’s positive energy for a championship moment.
“This one would be pretty big,” said Miller. “Our team hasn’t won that many tournaments this year and to finish off the summer with one would be a perfect ending.”