by Kyle Koso
COUNCIL BLUFFS, IA -- For the first time at the 2023 SlumpBuster, the Winter Park Diamond Dawgs gave up a couple of runs in their journey at the 14u division.
Safe to say, the team from Winter Park, FL., isn’t stressed about that.
After 10-0 and 12-0 victories earlier in pool play, the Dawgs dialed up a 20-2 run-rule win over the Westside Rattlers (MI) on Friday in Council Bluffs, a resume that unsurprisingly earned the team the very top seed in the 14u bracket going forward. It’s a tough time to be taking on the Dawgs – with many team just now getting serious after the school year, Florida’s own is in rhythm having played a lot of games by now, before the weather gets super unpleasant.
“This is the end of our season; we’ve played a bunch and the guys have worked hard,” said Dawgs coach Vic Intinelli. “Coming here, we emphasize that Omaha is a wonderful trip, their parents have sacrificed for them – we’re thankful to the Lord for the opportunity. Most of these guys want to play beyond here, something further than 14u ball, so the emphasis is on continuing to get better, regardless of the score.”
Chris Collins held up well in his job as starting pitcher, notching seven strikeouts in four innings and allowing four hits. The Dawgs offensive highlights were relentless, including thee runs and three hits from Sam Kimball at the bottom of the order, with three runs and four RBI coming from Nick Sande in the No. 3 hole.
The Dawgs scored 12 runs in the second inning, but there’s a consistent theme in keeping focus even when big leads are possibly distracting in that way.
“I just try to keep working hard, and if anything gets in my way I won’t let it stop me,” Kimball said. “I always want to make sure my teammates are on the fence; we have the attitude that we will keep our heads high, put the bat on the ball and play well in the field.”
“I try to discipline myself; my coaches help me stay focused,” added Sande. “I may hang my head if I do bad, but my teammates and coaches are great about lifting me up. (Collins’ pitching) really helps our defense out, and a guy like him can be a strikeout guy or pitch to contact. He did great today.”
The Diamond Dawgs will open bracket play at 10:15 a.m. Saturday against the Sierra Nevada Wolves at the Council Bluffs Complex.
Sebastian Gramek reached base twice for the Rattlers and scored a run from the leadoff position.