When the CTX Crusaders Red faced off against the Dulins Dodgers TX in the 12u Platinum Championships of the 2019 Omaha SlumpBuster, the title was guaranteed to belong to the Lone Star State. The Dodgers, head coach Lance Spivey and his boys made sure it was headed to McKinney, slipping past the Crusaders, 3-1.
“I’m super proud of this group,” said Spivey. “They competed all weekend long. We were consistent all weekend long, even when things didn’t go our way. I’m proud of their body language and their energy. It was a great way to end a long week.”
Only minutes after handling Iowa Sticks Red in the semifinals, Dulins wasted little time jumping on the scoreboard in the championship bout. Leadoff hitter Seth Yeamans climbed aboard with a single and quickly scampered around the bases to score on a duo of errors from the Crusaders’ defense.
The runs would not stop there.
Judd White, Jackson Miles and Mason Parsons all recorded hits. Even starting pitcher Brody Walls got in the action with an RBI double. In total, the Dodgers plated three runs, setting the tone early.
“Their pitchers were doing a great job of mixing it up,” said White. “We just had to stay balanced and do what we do best. Play our brand of baseball.”
Lead and momentum in hand, Walls trotted out the mound looking to get his team back to the plate as quickly as he could. Despite giving up a leadoff double and a run scored, Walls settled in, dialing up two popups and a strikeout to end the inning.
“My change-up was really working for me today,” Walls explained. “As it started to rain, my fastball started to slip a ton and dive into the dirt. My change-up came in clutch in the end.”
Two straight 1-2-3 innings at the dish meant Walls had to remain steady as his team clung to its 3-1 lead.
“It’s really relieving when you hang a pitch or miss your spot with a fastball that you can rely on your defense to make a play,” said Walls.
Time and time again, Walls utilized a mix of strikeouts and his defense to keep the Crusaders at bay. In his four innings of work, Walls struck out two, walked only one and surrendered just a single run. Even when a come-backer struck him in the hand in the third inning leading to a highlight-worthy 1-4-3 double play, Walls persevered and stayed in the contest.
“Love the compete factor in a kid like that,” Spivey said. “Takes one off the palm of the hand that was coming in there hot, settles himself back down and finishes off the game.”
Much like the persistence of the Dodgers throughout the SlumpBuster tournament, the rain in Omaha would not let up on Sunday afternoon. With four full innings completed, conditions were too dangerous to move forward and as the Dodgers were in front, 3-1, Dulins grabbed the 12u Platinum championship.
“We came to together as a team this week,” said White. “It’s a huge accomplishment for all of us. All the hard work that we’ve put in at practice paid off this week.”
The SlumpBuster marks the end of the Summer schedule for Spivey and company but a win in the top bracket of the 12u division will make the offseason a little bit sweeter.
“The Dodgers is a storied organization,” Spivey said. “It’s a good win and good for the organization. We’re ending our Summer with this tournament but we want these kids to keep playing baseball well after this.”