Colorado Elite entered the 12u D1 title game of the Colorado State Championships with plenty of confidence and plenty of reasons why. Scoring 46 runs in pool play and claiming the No. 2 overall seed, Elite proceeded to cruise through the semifinal with another impressive double-digit victory over the CC Bruins, 12-2.
Sunday afternoon at the Ballpark in Erie, Elite faced the No. 1 seeded Colorado Burn. Though the Burn edged Elite’s effort in pool play, Elite walked away as champions, claiming the 12u D1 crown, 14-0.
“We’ve worked really hard this season,” said head coach Marc Smith. “We set a goal for these boys to go undefeated in 12u play in the state of Colorado. This championship is the culmination of their hard work paying off.”
Leadoff hitter Brooks Barber got right down to business in the opening frame. Barber singled to start off the inning, moved to second on a passed ball and would come around to score on an RBI single from Gavin Smith. Smith would later equal Barber’s scoring effort when Adam Smith brought both him and Matthew Casillas home to top off a three-run first inning.
“This whole tournament has been a real team effort,” said Barber. “We’ve played great defense. Everyone in the lineup has contributed. Even when the top of the order isn’t hitting well, the guys in the bottom half seem to pick us up.”
After his work at the dish, Casillas turned his focus to the mound. Though Burn would record a hit and a walk, those would be the only two batters that reached safely in Casillas’ body of work. The young right-hander completed three full innings, gave up just one hit, and struck out four.
“My fastball was really on today,” said Casillas. “Early on, I knew I was getting it past them pretty easily. From there, it was just about hitting my spots.”
In the top of the second inning, Elite put the pedal to the metal offensively. Ten of the 11 batters in the order came to the plate and by the time the dust settled five runs had scored. Elite saw RBI come from Will Garduno, Dominic Gamueda, Luke Garner, Gavin Smith and Brooks Barber.
“Early in the game I was seeing a tone of fastballs,” Barber said. “As the game wore on, I began to see more and more off-speed pitches. It was just a matter of adjusting to what they were throwing at me.”
With Casillas rolling on the hill, Elite went back to work in the third inning already leading 8-0. It was the same song, different inning as the boys from Parker plated another five runs, running away from Burn, 13-0.
Elite added yet another run in the fourth inning before coach Smith turned to Luke Garner to seal up the championship.
Though Garner didn’t have the sheer number of innings to work with as Casillas, his efforts weren’t dissimilar, recording two strikeouts, including the final swing and a miss to claim the 12u title, 14-0.
“It feels amazing to be Colorado State Champions,” said Casillas. “We had each other’s backs all week long. We were loud in the dugout every time somebody made a good play or got hit. I don’t think we could have done this without each other.”
Finishing at the top of the pack in the Triple Crown Colorado State Championships has been no strange feeling for Elite in the recent past. Their 2018 title is now the second of back-to-back championships.
“We love playing in this tournament,” said coach Smith. “Not only have we had some recent success these last couple of years but it provides us with so many things.
“It provides us with great experience going forward and we know by playing well that we’ll get to play in other elite tournaments like the Omaha SlumpBuster and the Triple Crown World Series.”