With the way matchups have fallen for the 14u Building Champions Navy squad, they’ve already played the Dallas Tigers twice in the TCSB Division I Championships.
Both of those games at the Council Bluffs Recreation Complex were losses, but the Navy is more than happy to take another crack at it, having come through the loser’s bracket Saturday to earn a berth in the best-of-3 title series beginning at 9 a.m. Sunday at the Complex.
The Navy made the cut with a run-rule 8-0 victory over the Omaha Royals, who had won three games in the loser’s bracket before running into the determined Navy unit. The Royals were held to one hit and one walk as Navy pitcher Chase Jans had total command of the moment.
“I like to just throw the ball and spot it up. When the offense works like that, you can just go out and be loose,” said Jans, who also had two hits and two RBI. “Throw it and let them go to work in the infield and outfield.”
The bottom of the order delivered for the Navy as the final three hitters – Johnny Pascuzzi, Tony Padron and Dawson Goe – each scored twice. Goe had two hits, and Jace Peters did nice work in the leadoff spot with two hits including a triple, and two RBI.
“I felt we had to make it to tomorrow, and so we did what we needed to do,” Peters said. “Make sure we are playing clean so we can win and get to tomorrow’s game. We’ve been hitting good all year, and when we play good defense we seem to be rolling through teams. We’ll try to win tomorrow and put it to them.”
The game ended with one out in the fifth inning, when an error by the Royals allowed the final two runs to come across. Navy coach Matt Wagner said his team will take some inspiration from playing well in the final innings of their last loss to the Tigers and simply try to execute what they know is possible.
“Our team has been resilient all year; we’ve done a good job of keeping a level head and just playing the game. You’re not going to have good innings sometimes,” said Wagner, who is new to coaching this team and took over after some of the players’ parents wanted to get out of the dugout and get another voice involved. “If you don’t get on the roller coaster of emotion, the game usually works out for you.
“Tomorrow is a fresh start. We have some pitching left, which is good especially after all these games, and it comes down to pitching and defense like it always does. I was fortunate to get this bunch; it’s a great group of kids, and they play the game the right way.”
The 12U Dallas Tigers (5-1) advanced to the Omaha SlumpBuster TCSB DI Baseball Division championship series Saturday after defeating No. 1-seeded 3D Gold, 11-3, at the Council Bluffs Recreation Complex.
3D Gold took an early lead in the first inning, kickstarted from an RBI double by centerfielder Duce Robinson. Two walks loaded the bases for the Gold with two outs, but stiff defense from the Tigers ended the inning.
The Tigers would tally seven runs in the second inning, six of which came with two outs. Third baseman Garrett Schroeder got things going with a smoked triple to the right-center fence. An RBI single from Carter Nicholson scored Schroder and put the Tigers on the board. Gabriel Barrientes singled then stole second base putting runners on second and third with two outs.
An RBI double by Irvin Leonard and RBI single by Jason Miller tacked on three more runs for the Tigers. In all, the Tigers would go on to record eight hits and take a 7-1 lead.
“We’ve talked all year about having a two-strike or two-out approach, and today that really came out with seven of our runs coming with two outs,” said Dallas Tigers head coach Nathan Leonard. “Hitting has always been a strength of our team. I told the team to hit the ball and put in play. Make the other team play defense and that’s exactly what we did today.”
While 3D Gold did some damage in the second and third innings, Tiger pitcher Harry Rosar was solid on the bump throwing three strikeouts, giving up five hits and only allowing three runs in four innings pitched. Closer Bryson Bohannon pitched a near flawless fifth inning to seal the win for the Tigers.
“Having a defense behind me that I trust allowed me to throw it in there against their (3D Gold) strong hitters,” said Rosar. “The competition is a lot higher than we normally play in, so we know we have to bring it each game.”
The Tigers scored two more runs in the third and fourth, both of which were sparked by solid at-bats by Schroeder, who finished the game 3-for-3 (two singles and a triple), two RBI and two runs scored. Teammate Noah Bentley also scored a run in each of the third and fourth innings and recorded a single and RBI double.
“All season I have been working on attacking the fastball early in the count and having a good two-strike approach when I am hitting,” said Schroeder. “We get to play a lot of teams we haven’t played before and it’s been a great experience. We will try to buckle down tomorrow and play defense like we did today. We will trust our defense and try to get hot hitting again.”
The Tigers will face the 3n2 Warriors, who knocked out 3D Gold in the semifinals of the loser’s bracket. The Warriors and Tigers met in pool play, with 3n2 winning, 6-3. The championship is a best-of-3 series with the first game slated for Sunday at 9 a.m. CT on Field No. 4 at the Council Bluffs Recreation Complex.
“We need to eliminate the number of pitches and keep runners off the bases tomorrow in the championship,” said Leonard. “We are going to stay aggressive at the plate, and we believe our defense will keep us there. As long as we continue to hit the ball, I think we have a chance to win the championship.”
The Tigers are headed to the College World Series game tonight and then early to bed to get ready for tomorrow’s championship.
“This is always good experience for us, good competition, and of course, the College World Series is fun for the kids,” said Leonard. “In our opinion, we use this event as a family vacation. It’s always a great experience for us and a fun getaway.”
Revenge is a dish best served with baseballs, at least for the 13u Millard Elite squad.
After falling to Team Colorado – Altitude Baseball in the first bracket game of the tournament, Millard Elite reunited with their old foe Saturday with a spot in the TCSB Championship on the line. This time, Millard sparked offensively and waltzed into the championship series with a 10-3 victory.
The leadoff spot proved very profitable for head coach Trevor Barton and his team. Ben Weindel kicked off the bottom half of the first inning with a single, stole second and reached third on a passed ball before touching home plate two batters later.
“I was trying to look for a fastballs all afternoon,” said Weindel. “I wasn’t trying to do anything too fancy. I just wanted to drive it up the middle and get on base. I knew if I could do that, my teammates could get me home.”
Millard added a second run on a RBI single from Cade Barton. Barton proved to be a thorn in the side of Team Colorado all afternoon. Though hitting last in the order, Barton reached base safely in all three of his attempts, notched two singles and drove in two runs.
Colorado added pressure after plating a run in the top of the fourth inning, climbing within one off an RBI double from Reese Chapman.
With lingering thoughts of their 8-3 loss against Colorado just a day earlier, Millard wasn’t about to let this opportunity slip through their fingers. Sending each of their 10 batters to the plate in the bottom end of the fourth inning, Millard exploded for five runs, including an two-RBI double from Weindel to take a commanding 7-1 lead.
“We have a very consistent approach,” said coach Barton. “We ask them to take the game one pitch at a time and stay focused on what they can control. In the middle part of that game they really started to buckle down and play the game the way we know how.”
Meanwhile, Cole Goeser was keeping Team Colorado quiet with his work on the mound. In five innings of work, Goeser allowed just a single run and trusted his defense, which came up with 12 putouts and turned two double plays.
“Our guys work really hard at their skill,” said coach Barton. “They work well together at an extremely high level and if we can get that effort from them again, I like their mentality.”
Chapman, one of the few bright spots for Team Colorado, delivered a towering home run in the sixth inning. Barton’s squad stood tall against adversity once again, though, grabbing three more insurance runs in the bottom half of the frame, once more taking advantage of a Ben Weindell RBI.
Coach Barton called up Tadan Bell to finish the job for Millard. His six outs through the sixth and seventh innings ended a marathon stretch for Millard, capturing their third victory of the day, 10-3.
“We battled all day long,” said Weindell. “It’s never a spot that any team wants to be in, trying to climb out of the loser’s bracket, but we never gave up, and now we have a chance to finish off this week with something special.”
Millard Elite’s win seals its spot in the TCSB Division I Championship Series where they’ll face Beaver Valley at 9 a.m. Sunday morning in a best-of-3 series.
“Beaver Valley is a very good team,” said Barton. “But we have played a lot of baseball. If we can get our kids to come into tomorrow with the same mentality and to play for each other, I think we can win.”
Beaver Valley didn’t forget to pack their bats on their trip out from Pennsylvania.
The 13u team exited pool play with the highest run differential and scored 10 runs in their opening game of bracket play, eight more in their second, and knocked off Team Colorado-Altitude Baseball, 7-1, on Saturday in Council Bluffs to secure a spot in the TCSB Division I Championship Series.
“We’ve had pretty tough run the whole year,” said head coach Brian Smith. “We try to play against the best talent in that nation. Coming to the SlumpBuster we knew we were going to get just that.”
Daniel Snyder started the game on the mound for coach Smith and Beaver Valley. Two strikeouts and a fly out made quick work of Team Colorado in the opening inning and sent Beaver Valley to the dish looking for the game’s first run.
After a hit-by-pitch and a double from Gavin Miller, Snyder stepped to the plate and helped himself out with a ground out to shortstop, scoring the go-ahead run. Beaver Valley wouldn’t stop there, however, as Drew Lafferty, Beaver Valley’s version of Paul Bunyan, approached the dish. With his trusty bat, Lafferty axed a frozen rope home run over the left field fence, stretching the early lead out to three.
“I knew they were going to throw me a lot of curveballs,” said Lafferty. “I’ve been hitting pretty well this weekend, so I know that pitchers are going to try to throw off-speed to try to trip me up. If I stay patient, I can have days like I did today.”
Now pitching with a lead, Snyder settled into a groove on mound. Through his five innings of work, Snyder surrendered only two hits and struck out five batters, keeping Team Colorado at comfortable distance the entirety of Saturday afternoon.
“I was very successful with my changeup today,” said Snyder. “Combined with my fastball, I was able to get ahead of batters early in the count. That allowed me to use some two-strike pitches to seal the deal.”
Meanwhile, it was Lafferty who was captaining it all from behind the plate. If any ball breached behind Lafferty, it was only by work of a foul ball.
“Drew is an outstanding defensive player and a tremendous athlete,” said Smith. “What he was able to do at the plate and how he was able to block changeups in the dirt really puts us in a good spot.”
Already with a home run in the first inning, Beaver Valley yearned for more in the second. This time, it was Mitchell Schultz who did the bidding, sending his offering back where it came from, and more, to put his team up by four runs.
The offensive showcase would continue as the game wore on. Lafferty picked up his second home run of the game with a solo shot in the fourth, and Jackson Hower launched the team’s fourth long ball in the sixth. On the day, Lafferty finished 2-3 with three RBI and three runs scored.
“I really like how my team is playing,” said Smith. “I always think that this team has what it takes to get it done on any given day, and this team is no different. I like our chances.”
Smith turned to Gavin Miller in the final two frames to secure the victory for Beaver Valley. Though Miller gave up Colorado’s only run, he was no less powerful than Snyder on the mound. Miller tallied four strikeouts in his two innings, including the games final out, cementing Beaver Valley’s spot in the championship with the win.
“I think we really want to prove how good Pennsylvania baseball can be,” said Snyder. “We’ve come a long way to play the best in the nation, and I think that if we finished off the SlumpBuster with a championship, we’d start to turn some heads.”
Beaver Valley will enjoy a bit of rest and maybe even a look in at the College World Series before matching up Sunday morning against hometown Millard Elite in the TCSB Division I Championship. A best-of-3 games will decide the 2017 champion with the first game slated at 9 a.m. at the Council Bluffs Recreation Complex.
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.