The Utah Yard Dawgs went “yard” several times throughout Saturday’s bracket play games at the Omaha SlumpBuster, and their two run-rule victories sent them to the semifinal round of the 13u D1 championships on Sunday.
After handling their first game of the day, 16-1, the Dawgs showed up to Game 2 against the Desert Bandits with the same aggressive approach at the plate. The offense was on fire from the get-go; their 11 hits, five of those going for extra bases, ultimately led them to a 9-1 win.
“We just tell the boys they need to stay engaged, they gotta keep each other up, and they gotta work really hard. It’s just up to them really, we can’t say much as a coaching staff, just let them handle it,” said head coach Josh Atkinson.
The home team Dawgs took a 3-0 lead right off the bat in the bottom of the first inning. After getting a baserunner to reach via error, Kaden Miller moved him over with his single through the 5-6 hole. Then Cade Nalder stepped to the plate and drove a ball to right field, almost clearing the fence.
“We just stay in the game and watch the pitcher to see what he’s throwing,” said Nalder.
The second inning looked similar to the first as the Bandits committed an error that allowed the Dawgs to put a runner on base for cleanup hitter Billy Bird. He quickly took advantage of the situation and sent the ball out of the park for a two-run homer.
“It felt good! Mainly because I wasn’t hitting very good and then I just hit it hard,” said Bird.
The Dawgs strung together four more hits in the bottom of two to put them up 8-0 and Miller’s no doubter solo home run in the bottom of the fourth sealed the run rule for his team.
The Bandits managed to scrape in a run in the third, but the Dawgs solid pitching and defense kept them off the bases for most of the game. Pitcher Taylor Engh was efficient on the mound; he threw 94 pitches in five full innings with eight K’s.
Miller, Nalder and Evan Atkinson each had two hits in the outing. Nalder was 2-2 with a double and a triple; he also earned a team-high 4 RBI.
“Today gives a lot of confidence for tomorrow; all we know is it’s Billy Bird time!” said Nalder, hyping up his teammate who hit the monster home run in the second inning.
The Yard Dawgs have to win two games on Sunday to take home the SlumpBuster hardware.
“We’re pretty set. I got my big guns both ready to pitch both games tomorrow so that’s what our plan is,” said Atkinson.