(Awards photo taken just as thunder sounded at the field)
by Dean Fox
After a long weekend of baseball, the Rawlings Southeast Prospects could finally call themselves one thing Sunday night: Champions.
The Prospects got a five-run fourth inning and went on the win the Big South Regional Championship 13u bracket by claiming a 5-2 victory over the New Balance Elite Mavericks. Mason Baker had a three-run double and Abe Goolsby got the win with four strong innings on the mound.
The game was called due to a thunderstorm in the bottom of the fifth.
"It's been quite a season for us," Rawlings coach Ben Hayslip said. "We've had some ups, we've had some downs, we've had some people get hurt -- just about everything that can happen to a team. They saved their best for last in the biggest tournament of the summer."
The Mavericks opened the scoring in the top of the first when Grant Snider singled and eventually scored on Evan Cardwell's grounder. The Mavericks were poised to score again, but left fielder Hezy Scott threw out a runner at the plate to end the frame.
Johnny Pfefferle tripled to lead off the second inning and scored on an errant pick-off throw, pushing the Mavericks' lead to 2-0.
That lead was erased in the bottom of the fourth. Three straight walks to open the inning loaded the bases, and Rawlings tied it up when Kaden Wilks scored on an error and Knox Roberts came home on a wild pitch. It appeared the Mavericks would get out of the inning, but with two out, Baker hit a 3-and-2 pitch into center for a three-run double.
"He came up big," Hayslip said. "He always seems to have a big knack for coming up when we need it."
The Prospects' semifinal win was a thriller, with Rawlings rallying for a 10-8 win over the Clarksville Orioles. Baker's two-run single highlighted a four-run fifth inning that turned a two-run deficit into a 6-4 lead, and Rawlings held on for the win.
Adam Gordon came into pitch with the bases loaded and one out and got a strikeout and a flyout to secure Rawlings' spot in the title game.
Rawlings was the No. 3 seed for the tournament, winning three pool games by a combined seven runs and then beating the Warthogs 7-4 in a quarterfinal.
The Mavericks were the tournament's No. 5 seed. They lost their first pool-play game but roared back to score 34 combined runs in their next two outings. After an 8-3 win over the Murfreesboro Blacksox in a quarterfinal, they reached the title game with an 13-2 semifinal victory over the Old Hickory Generals. The Mavs took control of the game with a 10-run third inning.
by Dean Fox
FRANKLIN, Tenn. -- The Southlake Dragons breathed fire at just the right time at the Big South Regional Championships, capturing the 14-under championship late Sunday morning with a 7-2 victory over the Nashville Knights Platinum team.
The Dragons (Texas) split their three pool-play games, getting a win and a tie to earn the No. 5 seed in the tournament. But the Dragons had a pair of shutouts in the first two elimination games, then scored four times in the top of the first in the championship game.
"These guys have been full of fight the whole season," Dragons coach Tim Wright said. "That's been their M.O. They've been fighting the whole summer, and so I thought we were in a pretty good spot going into the tournament. We had a lot of pitching left, and we've got a lot of talent."
The game couldn't have started any better for the Dragons. The first seven batters all walked as two different Knights pitchers struggled to find the plate, combining to throw strikes only six times in their first 33 pitches. As a result, the Dragons scored four times, with Jace Christian, Hayden Lee, Andy Fordyce and Nate Arterburn all drawing bases-loaded walks.
"It's a little frustrating because we're a hitting team," Wright said. "You want to get there and get the bats going, but you take what you're given and that's how it works."
Knights reliever Evan Bell escaped further damage, using a nice play by first baseman Max Weyenberg, who caught a liner and turned into a double play. But those four first-inning runs would be crucial.
Dragons starter Grant Wright pitched four solid innings, allowing only third-inning damage when Gabe Hildabrand hit a two-out, two-run double that cut the Knights' deficit in half, 4-2.
"Grant Wright has won a lot of games for us, and Kaleb Higgs did a great job those last three innings," Tim Wright said. "They've been a dynamic duo."
The Dragons took control of the Knights' wildness in the sixth, loading the bases on three walks. Christian and Ben Tryon scored on consecutive squeeze plays, and Arterburn scored on a wild pitch to make it 7-2.
by Dean Fox
FRANKLIN, Tenn. — The Clarksville Orioles 13s entered Saturday's pool play looking to reach the single-elimination tournament unblemished. Strong pitching and a couple of power displays ensured that happened.
Preston Rager threw five solid innings, and Lane Barger and Devin Otero both hit two-run home runs as the Orioles finished pool play with a 7-2 victory over the Franklin Bombers at Triple Crown’s Big South Regional Championship.
The Orioles, who had 10-9 and 12-2 wins on Friday, started quickly. They took the lead in the first inning when Gavin Dufault led off with a single, stole second and came home on Nick Ray's two-out single.
“This is our final tournament of the summer, and we’ve been able to peak at the right time,” Orioles coach Brian Story said. “Our pitching has been our best aspect this summer. We came out and threw strikes and got ahead of people, and we put ourselves in a position to win.”
The Orioles doubled the lead in the bottom of the third as Blake Butcher drew a lead-off walk, advanced on Dufault's single and scored on Preston Brooks' grounder.
The Bombers cut the lead to 2-1 in the fourth as Peyton Kirton, Josh Lambert, Garet Dean and Brody Walker all had singles. But Rager kept his team in the lead, coaxing an infield grounder for a forceout at home for the second out, then getting a strikeout to end the inning.
Barger homered in the bottom of the fourth, smacking a line drive over the center-field fence to make it 4-1.
Ben Chance scored in the top of the fifth when he stole third and came home on an error, cutting the Bombers' deficit to 4-2, but the Orioles took command in the bottom of the inning, getting an RBI double from Proctor and a two-run shot from Otero to make it 7-2.
“They got into ‘em, didn’t they?” Story said. “We have some power, but being 13, we play on a lot of high-school fields, and this is one of the smaller fields we’ve played on. We’ve hit some balls really well, but those are the first two we’ve been able to get out of the park.”
Rager finished with 80 pitches, allowing six hits, walking two and striking out three.
Kobi Knight came into pitch for the O's in the sixth and got a pair of strikeouts with the bases full of Bombers to wriggle out of a jam. Cade Steiner pitched the seventh.
The Orioles are in line for one of the top four seeds in Sunday's single-elim bracket; the title game is scheduled for 6 p.m.
by Dean Fox
FRANKLIN, Tenn. -- The New Balance Elite Mavericks found balance Friday morning in 13U pool play at Liberty Park.
After dropping a tough decision in the 8 a.m. game, the Mavericks rolled to a 17-0 three-inning victory to gain a split on the day entering Friday at the Big South Regional Championships.
Johnny Pfefferle hit a three-run homer and Dom Monaco allowed only hit on the mound to key the victory. Pfefferle, Monaco, Tyler Rose and Matthew Canella all had two hits apiece for the Mavericks, who also drew 12 walks. Every Mavericks starter scored at least one run.
Monaco was also a star at the plate, going 2-3 with a pair of doubles, scoring twice.
Roman Petricca walked and eventually scored on a passed ball to open the scoring. Pfefferle followed with an RBI single that scored Evan Cardwell, and then Pfefferle scored on a passed ball that made it 3-0.
The Mavericks scored four runs in the second inning, including three on Pfefferle's blast over the left-field fence. The home run came on an 0-2 pitch with two outs, and scored Cardwell and Grant Snider to make it 7-0.
"He line-drived that one out of here," Mavericks coach Brent Chance said. "I told him in the batter's box, 'Try to knock one over the fence,' and he said, 'All right, coach.'"
Then came the third inning. With threatening skies, the Mavericks put the game away with a 10-run effort.
Colby Tucker had the only hit for the Outlaws, who left eight men on base in their three innings.
"(Monaco) struggled at times, but he got out of it," Chance said. "They had bases loaded twice, but he got out of it."
It was a big win for the Mavericks, who lost 8-5 to the Warren County Warthogs earlier in the day. The Warthogs scored three times in the sixth and final inning to break a 5-all tie.
"It's really big to come back," Chance said. "We've played this team before and so we knew we wanted to put the pressure on them, get guys on base and score runs."