On the strength of stellar defensive plays and a seven-run sixth inning, the Dallas Tigers rallied to defeat the East Cobb Astros 12-7 in the championship game of the 13u division of the Triple Crown U.S. Club Nationals.
“We just wanted to get to this game to give us the opportunity at a championship,” said Tigers head coach Chad Polk. “But at the end of the day, this team just has grit, heart, and hustle. You can’t coach that stuff. It’s just a collection of personalities that brings out this grit and fight.”
Down 7-5 entering the bottom of the sixth, the Tigers rallied with two out in the inning to plate seven runs. With the bases loaded, a hit by pitch forced in a run to make it 7-6. After a walk to Jacob Devenny tied the score, the Astros went to the bullpen. The pitching change didn’t work as back-to-back hit batters forced in two runs to make it 9-7. John Calvin Davis’ fly ball to right was then dropped, allowing two runs to score to give the Tigers an 11-7 lead. Another single would cap the scoring for the Tigers to give Dallas a 12-7 lead.
“We hit some balls hard,” coach Polk said. “Yeah, they walked a few guys, but we capitalized, and that’s part of the game. The important thing is, when we drew those walks because we didn’t swing at bad pitches, then we capitalized on a few key hits and it was all with two outs.”
In the seventh, the Astros would get runners on first and second, but Joshua Hoover would induce a line out for a double play to clinch the championship. After 77 games over the course of the spring and summer, the Tigers were able to end the season with a dog pile on the field and a championship in hand. “I’ve never done this before, so to be able to do that was awesome,” Hoover said. “We have a great defense, and I really felt like if they put the ball in play, our defense would make the plays behind me.”
The two teams met in bracket play previously with the Tigers winning 20-4, but the Astros were determined to prove that game as an anomaly. The Tigers took the lead with four runs in the bottom of the first, but the Astros got a leadoff triple by Treylen White in the second that led to a run to make it 4-1. The Tigers used heads-up base running by Josh Livingston to make it 5-1 in the third, as on a potential double play ball, Livingston rounded third and never stopped running as the throw to first to get the batter was late, making it 5-1.
In the fourth, the Astros knotted the score with four runs, but a diving catch at first by Jared Thomas with the bases loaded kept the score tied. White continued to do his part to try to give the Astros the championship as his double down the line in left scored the go-ahead run to give the Astros a 6-5 lead.
In the sixth, Caleb Bergman made a sliding catch in right-center to keep the leadoff man off base for the Astros to begin the inning. “I saw it well off the bat,” Bergman said. “I knew that I would have to bust it to get over and make the catch. I just wanted to help my pitcher out a lot and make him only have to get two more outs instead of having to get three.”
Still, the Astros would use a double-steal with two men out in the sixth inning to add an insurance run, making it 7-5. That set the stage for the rally in the bottom of the frame.
Coach Polk feels that the championship will resonate with his team for years to come.
"They’ve been here,” he said. “When all these kids on the roster walk into high school as a freshman, all these kids are going to expect to compete for a starting spot on varsity. If they’re lucky enough to play college baseball, they’re going in expecting to compete for a spot. They’ve been in big pressure situations, and I’ve never seen them back down from anybody.”
Tags: Baseball, Triple Crown Baseball, Triple Crown Sports, US Club Nationals