by Kyle Koso
When it's time to get the offense going for the 11u Kangaroo Court Roos, the team is perfectly happy going with a station-to-station approach.
Because in the end, a trainload of runs is usually the result.
Based out of Oldsmar, FL., the Roos sped around the basepaths at every opportunity Sunday in the 11u TCSB Invite Championship series at the Omaha SlumpBuster, turning walks and singles into scoring chances at will and winning two of three games to claim the title against the NW Rankin Rippers (MS). The Rippers won Game 1 on Sunday, 3-2, with the Roos responding with two straight victories, 6-2 and 8-1.
Game 3 saw the Roos flex serious muscle at the bottom half of the batting order. Starting pitcher Landon Serrano tripled in the game's first run in the bottom of the second inning, and Ricky Stegbauer (batting 11th) drove in two more with a timely single to make it 3-0.
Stolen bases helped fuel the burst. The team swiped eight in the game; Stegbauer stole second and third, then worked a delayed-steal play that had the Rippers looking the wrong way when he stole home as well.
"Sometimes I'm a little early on my swing, and my dad (head coach Rick Stegbauer) told me to wait and look to left-center," Ricky said. "We use that play where when the pitcher sets, the runner on first breaks and gets in a rundown. You have to wait until they have full attention on that runner, then you go."
"Being the dad, it can be tough coaching your kid ... but he's a very heady player," coach Stegbauer said. "We've got a large group, 12 boys, and we are proud of each and every one."
Serrano threw all six innings of the finale, allowing seven hits and striking out eight batters. One of his main accomplishments was muzzling the effect of the Rippers' first two batters, brothers Brian and Garrison Davis. The brothers were 6-for-6 in Game 2 with six stolen bases, but in Game 3 the combo was 1-for-5 with a run scored.
"In the fifth and sixth innings, I was feeling a little anxious, but you have to find a way to push through it for your team. You can't think about yourself," Serrano said. "I was working the curveball down the middle and the outside fastball."
The Roos ended the contest with a double play, and no one had a bigger smile on his face after that highlight moment than Serrano.
"I was very proud of my team; they're always there, and they're my best friends and brothers," he added. "I was really happy how they came through there."
"He is a big-game pitcher, one of the best in his age group in the country," said coach Stegbauer. "He didn't pitch a whole lot; when we needed him this weekend, he delivered."
The Roos did a nice job at the start of the must-win Game 2 on Sunday, scoring four runs in the first two innings and working the count to get five walks in that span.
"One of the things we pride ourselves on is applying pressure. No matter the score, we try to put that on whoever we are playing," coach Stegbauer added. "The bats woke up late for us in the tournament. We had to battle back (in the loser's bracket) and beat a very good Chandler Stars team to get back in, so I couldn't be more proud."
Taylor Latham had three hits in Game 3 for the Rippers; Will Bizot added two hits.