By Adam Burns
COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa — Music from rap artist Tech N9ne could be heard from the third-base dugout on Field 4 Thursday afternoon at the Council Bluffs Recreation Complex.
The speakers boomed during pre-game warm-ups and in between innings, ringing in everything from rap and hit music to “Sweet Caroline.”
The culprits? The Kansas City Siege, who are the talk of the 12-and-under Omaha SlumpBuster Division I Invite Only Championships.
The Siege play their music loud and proud during warm-up sessions, but it’s a laid back atmosphere filled with 10 players and a handful coaches from the Kansas City area, just like the successful rap artist in Tech N9ne.
“The main thing we try to do as coaches is to make sure they’re mentally prepared for the game but also allow them to have fun and enjoy being in the dugout and hanging out with each other,” Siege coach Dirk Kiser said. “They have pretty good chemistry and they’ve been playing together for the last couple years.”
That atmosphere has set the stage for a 3-0 pool play record, including an 11-5 victory that saw Michael Mange hit for the cycle and drive in a pair of runs.
“Michael was on today,” Kiser said. “We need that bat going and he hit for the cycle here. When he gets the bat going he’s as tough as anybody. He hits the ball hard.”
Mange, a right-handed hitter, tripled in his first at-bat as part of a 7-run top of the first, and hit a solo home run over the left-center field fence — a distance of 300 feet — to increase the lead to 8-1 in the second inning. It was his sixth home run of the summer, Kiser said.
“It was the first pitch, a cookie right down the middle,” Mange said. “I had to yack.”
Mange singled in his third at-bat to right field and doubled to right-center field in his final plate appearance for the rare cycle.
The Siege extended their lead to 10-1 with a two-run fourth. The Spiders, who also entered the contest 2-0 in pool play, trimmed the lead a bit with a run in the fourth and three in the fifth to make it 10-5, but the Siege added a single tally in the fifth and closed the door in the bottom of the fifth for the run-rule victory.
The top of the Siege’s lineup proved to be a tough out in this one. The first three batters went a combined 10-for-12 with six RBI. Leadoff hitter Myles Bachali was 3-for-4 with three runs scored and two-hole hitter Grant Madrid also went 3-for-4 and drove in four.
“We started off good,” said Bachali, who tripled, stole two bases and helped out on the mound. “We need to keep hitting the ball.”
“Today we showed what we are offensively,” Kiser said. “We got our bats going today.”
The Siege used three pitchers for two innings apiece. Rex Holcomb got the start and didn’t allow a hit. He walked two and surrenedered one earned run. Bachali allowed one run on one hit with one walk and a strikeout. Tyler Coffin finished it out with three runs on three hits, three walks but three strikeouts. The Siege didn’t record an error.
“Top to bottom of our lineup, we’re pretty strong and we’re a very strong defensive team,” Kiser said. “We have seven or eight guys that can go on the mound and pitch at any given time.”
The Spiders, based out of Akron, Ohio, managed four hits on the day, coming from Dana Williams, Dominic Sintic, Leo Wilson and Beckett Khoury. They too played errorless baseball.
Both teams entered this contest with 2-0 marks, but it was the Siege that came out on top and with the most favorable seed of Pool B. With a pool play run differential of 14, the Siege open bracket play Friday as a No. 1 seed and the No. 2 overall seed. They face fourth-seeded Millard Elite at 10 a.m. Friday on Field 4.
“We’ve had a successful season so far,” said Kiser, who noted a 37-3 record. “We find ways to win and our top pitchers are pretty good and they’re set up for tomorrow.”