While 12-year-old boys have any number of endearing or entertaining traits, patience is not usually found on that list.
But the right mental approach and plenty of baseball savvy had the Dallas Tigers-Leonard squad looking wiser than their years Sunday, as they swept the TCSB Division I championship series against the 3n2 Warriors (CO) at the Council Bluffs Recreation Complex.
Taking Game 1 by an 11-4 margin and prevailing 5-3 in Game 2, the Tigers went 7-1 overall in the invite-only event. The key in Game 2 was hanging tough for two innings, as that’s all 3n2 Warriors ace Julian Terrazas could throw before hitting the innings limit.
Trailing just 1-0 at that point, the Tigers plated three runs in the third. The Warriors tied it at 3-all on a clutch two-out, two-RBI single; from Dylan Goltl, but the Tigers came right back to take the lead in the bottom of the fourth on an RBI groundout from Gabriel Barrientes.
Jake Storey smoked an RBI double to score Harry Rosar for an insurance run in the fifth, and reliever Jason Miller held off the Warriors for the final two innings.
“Our whole game plan was to win Game 1 with our ace (Noah Bentley), and we felt our bats would carry over from Game 1. The object was to keep the (second) game close, and when (Terrazas) came out, our team came through,” said Tigers coach Nathan Leonard. “Our big focus is maturity. Baseball is a game of failure, and if you can teach these kids how to rebound after a bad at-bat or error, it means huge things in the game of life and baseball.”
“I was pretty calm – I just wanted to get a base hit and score the guy,” Storey said about his double in the fifth. “Didn’t want to do anything big. I think we all felt confident and were very loud in the dugout. And winning the first game helped everybody else who was feeling nervous.”
Starting pitcher Garrett Schroeder threw four solid innings, and he singled and scored the winning run on that grounder by Barrientes. The Warriors would likely say they didn’t play their cleanest game defensively, and they also left runners on second and third in the first two innings.
But 3n2 was certainly persistent, getting leadoff singles in the last two innings and making the Tigers elevate their abilities in crunch time. Shortstop Bryson Bohannon made two stellar plays at shortstop for the final two outs in the game, with the Tigers dashing about the field in celebration when the last batter was retired.
“We’ve talked about it, that his confidence level has been better because we’ve put him at shortstop more often,” Leonard added. “To see him right there do that, he’ll finish the season strong, that is a great way to end it, getting those last two outs of a championship game.”
“I just thought about trusting myself and my defense,” Schroeder said about his approach on the mound. “Let them hit it and see what happens, and just pump in the strikes. We were pretty calm and thought if we play like we can, we could go a long way.”
In Game 1, Bentley allowed two hits and registered five strikeouts in five innings, and he also had two hits to go with an RBI. Bohannon was 3-for-3 with two RBI, Schroeder was 2-for-4 with three RBI, and Storey drove in two runs with two hits.
For the Warriors in Game 2, Brayden Duman had two hits, and Dante Nori scored a run.