The 11u TCSB Invite Only bracket play began Friday morning at the Triple Crown SlumpBuster in Omaha, Nebraska. As the day went on the intensity grew alongside the temperature.
The LA Xtreme won their first game of the day, but it was how they ended their day that made waves. The team trailed the Texas-based Twelve Black 5-2 heading into their final frame, but the resilient young roster assembled a comeback to stay undefeated in the tournament and beat Twelve Black, 7-6, in extra innings.
“We lost our pitcher in the first inning with an injury and then had a strange call go against us and all air was just sucked out of us … but you know, we just tell them to keep chipping away, stay positive, stay engaged, stay in the moment and they did that,” said head coach Eric Beckerman.
Xtreme’s bats were solid the entire game; however, in the first few innings against Twelve they weren’t producing with runners in scoring position.
“We’ve been hitting the ball well all tournament long and even when we weren’t scoring we were hitting the ball well just right at them. So we tell them to continue what they’re doing, try to find those holes and hope the baseball Gods are listening,” added Beckerman.
In the home team’s last opportunity they strung together several hits, including a leadoff double that started the rally, followed by a single, walk, sac fly and a huge two-RBI single to tie the game at 5 and send it into extra innings.
With the California tiebreaker rule in place, Twelve put their last out on second and were able to score that runner on a leadoff base hit. Xtreme buckled down and got the next three batters out, 1-2-3.
The Xtreme roster shined in the late pressure situations; Hamilton Friedberg led off the extra inning with a clutch RBI-single to tie up the game once again. Friedberg was a perfect 3-for-3 at the plate with three RBI.
“I hate losing so that’s just me. I was like I don’t wanna lose so let’s get energized and I know we always play better when we’re energized, so I got the team pumped up and then we scored our runs,” said Friedberg.
With a chance to complete the comeback, Jonathan Cardenas stepped up to the plate with confidence and crushed a ball to the right field fence to score Friedberg and secure the win with a walk-off.
“I just wanted to hit it to the outfield so he (Friedberg) could advance to third and the next battle could drive him in, but I wasn’t expecting to hit it that far,” said Cardenas.
Xtreme is now 5-0 at the TC SlumpBuster and will compete in the semi-final round of the 11u TCSB Invite Only Saturday morning.
“We’re battling some sore arms and we don’t want to pitch anyone with a sore arm, so tomorrow we’re relying on our pitching depth that we’ve practiced all year,” said Beckerman.