At the Council Bluffs Recreation Complex, it’s all wide open spaces and fresh Midwest air.
But the Dallas Tigers have a way of making it tough to find oxygen.
The 14u Tigers continued their journey through the TCSB D-I Championships on Saturday with a sturdy 8-2 victory against Building Champions Navy (KS), earning a spot in the best-of-3 title matchup Sunday, beginning at 9 a.m. As it turns out, the Tigers will meet Building Champions again, as the Navy won the last loser’s bracket game to get back in the chase for the crown.
Saturday, the Tigers used endlessly aggressive baserunning, a series of two-out hits and a general command of the fundamentals to take charge versus Building Champions. A two-run, two-out hit from Patrick Turner in the second inning pushed the Tigers up, 7-0, and there was little doubt about the result for the remainder of the contest.
Cade McGarrh laid down a perfect safety squeeze bunt in the second; Bennett Hanks laced a textbook opposite-field hit in the sixth to drive in an insurance run – these are the traits of a team that hasn’t lost a game yet in the event.
“I’m just looking to get the ball and do something to get those two runs in,” said Turner about his big hit in the second inning. “Maybe on the ground, maybe a line drive, definitely nothing in the air. Those were crucial runs. We’ve expected a tough fight and that’s what we are getting. But we’re playing well and I see us continuing. Our core has stayed strong through it all.”
Turner closed with three RBI; David Jeon drove in two runs and had three hits. Jeon and the three other pitchers for the Tigers were especially tough on the bottom of the Building Champions order – hitters in spots 5 through 10 were a combined 1-for-16 for the game.
“I tried to throw strikes and be consistent, let them hit it and let my defense help me,” Jeon said. “If I start to overdo it, that’s not very good for me. We are always working on hitting; we try to hit line drives and do it little by little, get the next guy up.”
If there was any complaint regarding the Tigers, the team missed some opportunities late, as a runner was double off second base in the fourth and Ethan Thomas’ leadoff hit in the third didn’t lead to a run. But that’s really nit-picking, with the defense and pitching making it too tough for the opponents to rally.
“It’s hard to win game after game, when you travel, trying to get the guys to focus and lock down, re-energized each day. I’m happy with the victory, and that the guys took care of business,” said Tigers coach Chris Godwin. “We’ve got our 1 and 2 pitchers for (Sunday), so we’re set up pretty nice for championship day.
“The guys are getting more physical, and as a club we work on the little things religiously. We spend time on rolling the double play, getting bunts down, covering first base and getting pitchers over, like you saw a few times that game. Do the little things right, because in crunch time, that’s who’s going to win the game.”
Tate Gillen had two hits, a run and an RBI for Building Champions, and Jace Peters had two hits, a run and a stolen base.