by Adam Burns
COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa – The boys from the Beaver State are called Mound Time for a reason. Thanks to a bevy of strong arms and reliable defense, the 13-year-old squad from Hillsboro, Oregon, has enjoyed an undefeated start to the Triple Crown Sports Slumpbuster tournament.
After blanking its pool play opponents, second-seeded Mound Time defeated Colorado-based Salty Dawgs 6-4 to advance to Championship Sunday of Division I Platinum bracket play.
“We pride ourselves in developing a staff from top to bottom,” Mound Time coach Tyler Niles said of his pitchers.
Jack Burnham, Mound Time’s right-handed starting pitcher, allowed just two runs across five innings of work, converting 15 first pitch strikes and one strikeout. The two runs allowed came in the first inning.
“Today, in a big game like this against a good team, it’s easy to fold after that team puts up two in the first inning,” Niles said. “But we came right back and got a leadoff double. After that everyone just loosened up and evened it up.”
Indeed they did, which Burnham certainly appreciated. Kyle Goodwin was quick to compliment his pitcher, and was pleased with his squad's efforts.
“I thought we played great,” Goodwin said. “We’re hitting the ball well and throwing strikes on the mound. We played an all around good game.”
The Salty Dawgs didn’t go down without a fight, as Dylan Rubenstein launched a two-run home run to left center field to make it a 5-4 game in the top of the sixth. However, once again, Mound Time had a response, tallying a run in the bottom of the sixth prior to closing out the contest in the seventh.
“I was proud of how they responded,” Niles said. “Resilience is the name of the game. They’re showing that resilience a bit and it’s good to see. When this team, with the talent they have, has that mental aspect figured out, they’re a really good team.”
Mound Time turns its focus to a 9 a.m. Sunday quarterfinals date with Omaha Tigers Black at Council Bluffs Sports Complex Field 4. Of course, Mound Time feels quite confident in its ability to navigate a potential three-game day.
“I feel good,” Goodwin said. “We have a lot of pitching left so I think we can go far in this tournament.”
As they should. They’ve only handled their opponents 41-4 thus far.