The second day of pool play at the Triple Crown World Series in Steamboat, Colorado, was about more than baseball for the 13u Saddleback Cowboys. Honoring the memory of their father, Cole and Connor Dietch carried the California-based team to a wild 17-11 victory Thursday over the Fast 45’s.
“I just wanted to make my dad proud,” said Cole Dietch. “I think we all miss him a lot and we both wanted to make him proud, especially today.”
It was exactly one year ago to the day that the twin brothers were enjoying a trip to Cooperstown. Steve Dietch, the boys’ father, lost his battle with cancer while his sons were playing the game they loved. On the anniversary of his passing, it didn’t take long for the Dietch boys to make a huge impact on the game and celebrate their father’s life in style.
Already leading by a run in the top of the first inning, Cole Dietch stepped to the plate with two runners on base. Dietch promptly rocketed a towering bomb over the left field fence, catapulting his team to a 5-0 lead.
“I really wanted to put a good swing on the ball.” said Dietch. “I was trying to keep my mind clear and focus on scoring those runs to get an early lead.”
The game turned on a dime, however, when the 45’s came to bat in the bottom half of the first inning. Of the 10 players in the lineup, six saw their second at-bat before the end of the inning. When the Cowboys finally tallied the third out, 11 runs had crossed the plate, giving the lead to the 45’s, 11-5.
Even though Cole Dietch had already homered, his team and his brother weren’t about to let the thought of a loss creep in their minds and ruin the day.
Chase Christner immediately brought a run home in the second inning with an RBI single, and a passed ball scored a second run to bring Saddleback within four.
Nearly a carbon copy situation to the first inning, Connor Dietch approached the plate with two on and a chance to cut into the 45’s lead. Not to be outdone by his brother, Connor laced a ball over the center fielder’s head and raced around the base paths for an inside-the-park home run.
“In my first at-bat, I felt like I missed a pitch that I could drive,” said Connor. “Cole got up and hit a home run so I told myself I had to do something. I hit a curveball a long way and when coach waved me home I was happy to tie up my brother in home runs for the day.”
Back in the ballgame, head coach Richard Mercado went to Jacob Tyler to smooth things down on the mound. Tyler pitched four low-stress innings, totaling three strikeouts while shutting down the Fast 45’s offense.
“Jacob was the fireman today,” said Mercado. “We brought him in because he can throw strikes and compete. That kid does so well, he competes every time he steps on the field.”
Riding Tyler’s momentum, Saddleback tied up the score in the third inning when Aiden Mcdowell crossed home plate on a passed ball.
After a quiet fourth inning, who else but Cole Dietch arrived at the plate looking to take advantage of the now even contest. Dietch, already with a home run and a double in his two previous at-bats, took use of a triple to leadoff the inning, coming around to score on the next at-bat from Trent Liolios.
“These guys feed off each other,” said Mercado. “It was something special to watch the guys embrace Cole and Connor like that. Those are two special athletes and for them to play like they did today was pretty cool to watch.”
Connor took his turn to produce some insurance runs in the sixth inning. His two-RBI single made it 15-11 in favor of the Cowboys. Two batters later, Cole only needed a single to complete the cycle, a feat he would complete while also scoring Luke Lavin to match the largest lead of the game for the away side, 16-11.
Standing three outs away from the Cowboys’ second win of the tournament, Mercado turned to Cole Dietch to finish things out. With his brother Connor assuming the catching duties, the two looked like kids playing in their back yard.
“I love it when my brother catches for me,” said Dietch. “We’ve done this a million times as kids, and I wouldn’t want anyone else behind the plate.”
Cole did walk a pair of batters, but inevitably secured three strikeouts, claiming the save, the victory and capping off a memorable day on the diamond for him and his brother.
While the Cowboys will earn the likely No. 1 seed out of its pool, the win combined with Cole and Connor’s play leaves a larger impact.
“It was a special day to play,” said Cole Dietch. “Hopefully we made him proud and made him happy. We were glad to honor him by playing the sport he taught the both of us.”