By Craig Buchanan
COUNCIL BLUFFS, IA – If you watch Head Coach Duke Zielinski and his NINES Baseball Academy, you can see that they take in every moment. They appreciate the competition. They appreciate the experience and seeing all the different teams. Every game and every pitch is a memory to be cherished for a club that has been making plenty of memories on the baseball diamond out in Omaha.
“Our kids are having the time of their life; it’s a great experience,” Zielinski said. “Baseball is one thing, but the experience of being around kids from all over the country playing. We take pictures with every team. It’s all about the experience.”
The fourth-seeded NINES Baseball Academy advanced to the semifinals of the 13u D1 Platinum bracket with a thoroughly impressive 16-2 victory over the fifth-seeded West Fargo Rattlers in the quarterfinals on Saturday afternoon. It marked the sixth time in seven games out in Omaha that the NINES have put up at least 12 runs.
“The guys are seeing the ball well, but we’ve still got a long ways to go,” said Zielinski.
The NINES struck early, and they struck often. After scoring one in the bottom of the first inning, the NINES extended the lead to 4-0 in the bottom of the second behind an rbi triple from Sebastian Joseph followed by a two-run home run from Brodie Abbott to straight away center field. The dynamic duo wasn’t done there, driving in another three runs in the bottom of the third inning, part of a nine-run inning for the NINES, and one more for good measure in the bottom of the fourth inning as the team was in complete control.
“That’s why they hit number one and number two,” Zielinski said. “They are dynamic and we want to get them the most at bats.”
The win sets up a highly anticipated semifinal matchup against a familiar foe in the top-seeded Golden Spikes Shockers, also hailing from California.
“They are from our neck of the woods,” Zielinski said excitedly about the matchup against the Golden Spikes. “We’ve played them at home before and have had a lot of great games against them. We have a lot of respect for them, and it will be a fun match.”