by Bradey King
The 13u Yard Dawgs stormed the field with confidence on a gloomy Sunday afternoon in Windsor, CO., at the Colorado State Championships. The team tallied just one loss in the tournament, which came from Friday’s pool play game against the Chargers.
The Dawgs redeemed themselves by run-ruling the Chargers in bracket play and eventually fought their way to the title game where they succeeded in taking down the undefeated 5280 Tigers, 7-1.
“Friday, the boys came out a little flat and frankly didn’t play that great. So we came back out yesterday and today with a better approach and mentality,” said head coach Jason Bates.
While the Tigers seemed to have the initial advantage by being home team and having a perfect record, they had yet to play the Dawgs in the 2018 season. This presented a clean slate for the matchup and it was truly anybody’s game.
An unusual start put the Dawgs on the board 1-0 in the first as the Tigers starting pitcher struggled to find the zone and hit four consecutive batters with wild pitches.
“I thought it gave us a lot of momentum when all of us got on base right away,” said leadoff batter Dominick Cortez.
More Tigers pitching struggles resulted in two free bases to start the second inning. Cortez stepped up to drive in a run and teammate Conner Boyd did the same as he found the 5-6 hole and extended the Dawgs lead, 3-0.
The score remained that way until the fifth when Boyd crushed a leadoff double and quickly scored on a Tigers throwing error.
The Dawgs offense scraped in a few more insurance runs in the sixth initially led by Finley Bates’ single. Bates was brought around to score on a hit from Braden Doumer and another single from Nathan Pitts put two ducks on the pond for Cortez. He was clutch once again and cleared the bases by smashing a triple to the right field fence.
Cortez tallied three RBI in the game, scoring nearly half of the Dawgs total runs.
“I knew that I had to do it for my team because I struggled yesterday. So I just had to come back today and show up for them,” said Cortez.
The Dawgs had a comfortable 7-0 lead heading into the final two frames. The Tigers scored a run in a sixth inning rally but it wasn’t enough to catch the Dawgs.
“The game plan going in was to get our starter Hunter Gotschall to four or five innings and see what happens from there. If he’s throwing strikes and on his game that always gives us a chance,” said coach Bates.
Gotschall did his job on the mound, throwing an absolute gem for the Dawgs. He recorded eight strikeouts, allowing just two hits and held the Tigers scoreless through five full innings before closer Conner Boyd entered in the sixth.
“First time through the order, I just worked ahead with my fastball and then second time through I worked in the off-speed and then worked them backwards,” said Gotschall. “The win feels real nice!”