At least one team representing north Florida is guaranteed a championship in Omaha.
While Florida State and the University of Florida will battle for a College World Series crown, both the Gators and the Seminoles will be looking to equal the Five Star Tigers of Jacksonville, which knocked off Lids Indiana Bulls in a best-of-3 series on Sunday in Council Bluffs to take home the 11u TCSB Division I title.
Five Star’s day began bright and early on the final day of competition at the 2017 Omaha SlumpBuster. A 9 a.m. start time against an Indiana Bulls team they’d already seen in pool play and in the bracket posed potential trouble.
Even though head coach Josh Baker’s team had only scored three runs through their first two bracket games, suddenly their bats began to take life. The Tigers plated 10 runs when they met the Bulls in the semi-finals, 11 runs in Game 1 and secured the title with a 10-7 victory in Game 2 of the championship series.
“We survived the first couple of days of this tournament relying mostly on our pitching,” said Baker. “The last two days, our bats came alive and it couldn’t have come at a better time.
“After playing as many games as we did, our arms were tired and we were down to the bottom end of our bullpen, but our bats carried us to this win.”
Indiana didn’t go down without a fight, however. After falling in Game 1, the Bulls quickly raced out to the early lead, scoring the game’s first run. Five Star answered quickly in the bottom end of the frame off an RBI single from Miles Burris that brought in Kent Jackson to tie the game.
Starting pitcher Connor Thomas gave up a single to start the second inning, but that’s when his catcher, Aiden Lynch, intervened.
“I just try to give the pitchers some real positive encouragement,” said Lynch. “These guys are all my friends so when I go out there, I tell that we got this and not to worry.”
Behind Lynch’s comforting pep talk, Thomas responded with three consecutive strikeouts to end the inning and keep the contest knotted at 1-all.
The Bulls pushed another go-ahead run across in the third inning as a lead-off triple from Indiana came back to bite Five Star, despite forcing two quick outs before Indiana mustered an RBI.
Baker’s team never seemed deterred, going right back to work in the bottom of the third inning. Jackson Roper led off the frame with a triple of his own, allowing Sean Benjamin to bring him home, tying the game a second time.
Five Star wouldn’t stop there.
Chase Fralick, Miles Burris and Aiden Lynch delivered back-to-back-to-back base hits, driving home two more runs and taking their largest lead of the game at 4-2.
“We all practice very hard,” said Lynch. “When it comes to hitting, I think it’s easiest to get ahold of fastballs, so we tried to stay patient to get that perfect pitch we wanted.”
Now with a healthy lead, Thomas charged to the mound with a budding confidence. A strikeout followed by a nifty 6-4-3 double play carried the game into the final two innings, though not before a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the fourth from Dominic DeLoreto stretched the lead out to three.
Two-out walks are never useful, and for Five Star, their two-out walk in the top of the fifth into turned into a four-run barrage for Indiana. When the dust settled, Indiana had reclaimed the lead for the third time Sunday afternooon, 6-5.
Leave it to the scrappy group from Jacksonville to erase what could have been a series-changing inning. In the blink of an eye, two walks and a single loaded the bases. When Miles Burris got pelted in the arm, the game fell tied once again. With momentum on their side, Aiden Lynch, Isaac Newman, Brooks Baker and Jace Glisson all dialed up RBI hits, catapulting Five Star on top, 10-6.
In the final frame, Indiana wanted to make sure they left everything on the field. Three of the first four batters all reached safely, loading the bases. Again Lynch delivered a pep talk to Jackson Roper, who had come on to finish the game off.
A run slid by as the Tigers failed to squeeze sequential fly balls. Finally, out came Baker.
“When I came out to the mound, there were two outs and the bases loaded,” explained Baker. “I just told them to relax and play this game like they have since they were three years old.”
Almost immediately, Roper forced a pop up to Newman at first base and the championship was finally in the hands of Five Star.
“Coach said we could dogpile if we won,” said Lynch. “It was just such a great feeling to actually do it when it happened.”
The Tiger’s victory capped a grueling five-day stretch, where they faced eight opponents, finishing with a record of 7-0-1, tying to who else but the Indiana Bulls.
“This win just shows us that this team is where I thought we were,” said Baker. “We don’t have any one stud, we just have a group of kids who just play and force you to beat them. It feels amazing to walk away as champions in such a great tournament.”
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.
COUNCIL BLUFFS, IA – In a windy and abnormally cool June day at the Council Bluffs Recreation Complex, the Lone Tree Halos from Colorado gutted out two wins over the Dirty South Venom from Virginia in the best-of-3 series to win the 2017 Omaha SlumpBuster 10U TCSB DI championship.
The Halos opened the morning with a come-from-behind victory in Game 1, scoring four runs in the bottom of the sixth in a walk-off 5-4 victory. The Halos then jumped to an early 6-0 lead in Game 2, as it looked like the Venom had not recovered from the day’s opener, a game which it had lead up until the bottom of the sixth.
But two runs in the third and then a monster fifth inning, in which the Venom tallied five hits and three walks on the way to eight runs, forced Game 3 with a 10-6 victory.
In the third game, Trevor Gottsegen hit a lead-off single and eventually scored on an error to give the Halos a 1-0 lead after the first inning.
The Halos added six runs in the third inning, which was sparked by leadoff hitter Gottsegen who blasted a single and then stole second base. Hayden Stranak would knock in Gottsegen with an RBI double. The next three Lone Tree batters would reach base on errors, followed by a hit-by-pitch on Braedan Reichert. With bases loaded, Presley James would crush a shot over the outfielder’s head scoring three more runs to push the lead to 7-0.
The Venom would tally two runs in the fourth off of back-to-back doubles by Mason Yovich and Dylon Wood. They would add one more in the fifth and another in the sixth, but it wasn’t enough as the Halos would prevail, 7-4.
“Being able to come out here and play eight great teams was unbelievable. Every game was a battle,” said Halos head coach Paul James. “In the second game, I think we got a little confident and let down a little bit. I told those guys you can’t do that when you play good competition. A good team will come back and beat you when you let up.”
Lone Tree pitcher Carter Landen was solid from the mound, allowing eight hits and four runs in a complete-game effort. The final out came on a Landen fastball for strike three against Venom hitter Thomas Wilson, who was caught looking.
“I feel really happy and glad we won,” said Landen a fifth-grader from Centennial, CO. “Before heading out to the mound in the sixth inning, I told myself to try my hardest, don’t give up and keep on going until you get the last out.”
“He (Carter) was phenomenal today. He threw strikes and was consistent. You can’t say enough about a kid who can have complete game in a game like this. Very impressive,” said James.
It’s the second straight year that the Halos are heading back home with Omaha SlumpBuster hardware. In 2016, the team captured the 9U D1 championship after defeating the Dallas Tigers in the championship, 10-9.
“It’s the most fun tournament of the year. It’s a great experience the kids love it. The umpires were phenomenal, the fields are in great shape, you (Triple Crown) do a great job,” said James.
Backed by a potent offense and more than a few excellent turns on the pitching mound, the 14u Dallas Tigers went 8-0 at the TCSB Division I championships, wrapping up the title Sunday at Council Bluffs Recreation Complex with two wins against the Building Champions Navy (KS).
Game 1 was a 7-3 win for the Tigers, and Game 2 closed with a score of 7-2. The Tigers outscored their opponents by a margin of 83-21 at the event.
“We pitched well and had several guys contribute. We did the little things, manufactured several runs and the guys came out and took care of business,” said Tigers coach Chris Godwin. “At this point, we’re in our 60th game with another 30 or 40 to come, so it’s about continuing to grind. Remembering where we started in December and not losing sight of that … don’t get content, which is easy to do when you win a few tournaments.
“This was a fun event, good times. It’d always fun to meet other players and families from other parts of the (country), and the College World Series is an awesome experience, part of the dreams a lot of these guys have.”
Beaver Valley (PA) rode some excellent work from its pitching staff Sunday, allowing the 13u squad to beat Millard Elite in a best-of-3 showdown in the TCSB Division I championship series at the Council Bluffs Recreation Complex.
Beaver Valley won Sunday’s first game, 7-1, and was about to force extra innings in Game 2 before Millard brought home the winning run on an error to post a 2-1 victory.
In Game 3, Beaver Valley got a double from Gavin Miller in the first inning, and he came home on a grounder by Jackson Hower. Hower drove Miller home again in the fourth inning with a double, and Drew Lafferty followed that up with an RBI single. Two more runs came across later, and Beaver Valley closed it out with a 5-0 victory to finish its run to the title.