By Kyle Koso
LA VISTA, Neb. – As the Sticks Red 12u team tackled its assignment Friday afternoon at the SlumpBuster, there was a touch of anxiousness and tension at the plate, wanting to do as much as possible, as soon as possible.
A very useful lesson emerged from that challenge when the Sticks (West Des Moines, IA) scored a few runs by just taking advantage of openings offered by the Colorado Lightning (South Denver). Once they settled in, the Stick took off, posting a 12-2 run-rule victory in four innings to close the day with a 2-0 record including a 13-0 victory over MASH 12u.
The Lightning jumped ahead 2-0 in the first inning on a two-out, two-run single from Jaxson Trail. The Sticks made early progress by getting runners on via errors, hit batters and walks, and coming home on other plays that really had nothing to do with hard hits. When the moment was right, Vinnie Edwards jumped in with a two-run double on a full count in the third to push the lead to 5-2.
Edwards, the team’s starting pitcher as well, was the true guiding light on a sultry day at the ballpark.
“I’m usually trying to pump the ball right by them, and if they do get a hold of it, I’ve got a good team behind me that will figure out a way to make a play,” Edwards said. “The hit felt real good. I had a feeling a fastball was coming because he threw me two curve balls in a row. I got inside it and took it opposite field. I love the defense; it shows we are a complete team.”
Defense was a critical asset for the Sticks – Nick Wigton made a diving catch for the final out in the top of the third inning, and the Lightning was retired in the fourth on a line-drive double play.
“The reality of this game was we started off a bit slow. They threw a guy who had good off-speed stuff, and we were just trying to yank everything down the line,” said Sticks coach Aaron Abram. “Once we made the adjustment, took the ball up the middle and the other way, we started to drive the baseball.
“Vinny has done a really good job. He throws strikes, and if he misses, he usually misses low. That’s a good combination. He’s the one who got us started offensively as well, going to the opposite field gap. When that happened, everybody said, that’s a good idea.”
Pete Craig had two hits, two runs and two RBI for the Sticks; Wigton drove in two runs with a hit, and Brady Abram had a home run in the third inning when his team batted around and scored eight runs in the frame. He also had the game’s last tally, a run-scoring single to plate the 12th run.
“We like to take advantage where we can, especially if the pitcher is trying to keep it down. If he’s giving up walks, we try to get on the plate and take the walks,” Brady Abram said. “I knew the guy was throwing junk; I thought he would thrown junk or a fastball. The first pitch was a fastball at my head, so I knew he’d throw fastball again. He threw it belt-high, so I tried to go hands-first and hit a line drive.
“I think we have a really good shot at winning.”