By Adam Burns
OMAHA, Neb. — When the DS3 Dawgs arrive, most expect — dare we call it — a dogfight.
So once the brackets were released Friday afternoon, there the Dawgs were as the 33rd-overall seed. That made the hometown Dawgs from Omaha the top dogs of the 13U D2 Platinum Championship Bracket.
Once known as Millard Elite, the Dawgs showed up to the Kelley Fields on Saturday with a firm target on their backs.
But it didn’t faze them.
The Dawgs rolled with a pair of victories, topping the Illinois Valley Predators 15-0 and the HD Drillers 9-4 — the latter in the quarterfinals.
What’s their secret? For starters, experience and determination.
“We go into most tournaments that we compete in as a favorite or a top team,” Dawgs coach JJ Bond said. “Each and every one of these kids work hard all offseason, so they’re always ready for the limelight.”
That statement holds water with the players. Just ask third baseman Cade Anderson — the team’s 3-hole hitter. It’s the little things that matter to Anderson and his teammates.
“It’s all about a good warmup,” Anderson said. “If we do that, we know we’ll play well.”
After a comfortable victory in Saturday’s first game — which included an eight-run first and six more in the second, plus a two-run blast by Anderson — the Dawgs settled in for a battle with the Drillers of California in the quarterfinals.
“These guys are always prepared for any battle. They’ll be dialed in,” coach Bond said. “We’ve got pitching and we’re fired up to compete.”
Courtesy of a four-run second and single tallies in the first and third, the Dawgs held a favorable 7-1 lead after five innings.
The Drillers showed signs of life with a three-run sixth to cut the lead to 7-4. But, of course, the Dawgs responded in the bottom half of the inning when Adam Marsh doubled in a run and Iker Elvir had an RBI single to provide two insurance runs before the Dawgs held the Drillers scoreless in the final frame.
“It was really important (to respond),” Anderson said, “because that’s a team that you can tell that they like to put pressure on their opponents. But we like that pressure.”
Brooks Bond went 2-for-2 with two RBI and a walk, while Luke Valasek also collected a pair of hits with two RBI. Three other Dawgs had two hits apiece, including Marsh, Krey Eikmeier and Keaton Melcher.
“It was a good day of baseball for us,” Anderson said. “We hit the ball really well and did well in the field and pitched well, so it was nice.”
“Our defense was outstanding,” coach Bond said. “We made a lot of plays and we didn’t kick it around much and our pitchers threw strikes. And we had timely hitting when they put a little pressure on us, we got the runs back.”
The Dawgs will face Lightning Gold in the semifinals at 11:15 a.m. Sunday at the Council Bluffs Sports Complex.
In other 13U D2 Platinum action, second-seeded MASH Black went 2-0 Saturday and will take on Bomb Squad in a semifinal game at 9 a.m. Sunday.
The two semifinal winners will play for the D2 Platinum title at approximately 1:30 p.m. Sunday.