by Jason Hanes
Looking to start the tournament with a win, 6-4-3 DP Tigers 13u used a strong second inning to pull out a 7-3 win over Dallas Tigers East 13u to win the first game of pool play for both teams at the Triple Crown U.S. Club Nationals Wednesday afternoon.
"We really went for that one because we knew that was a good team coming in," said 6-4-3 head coach Brett Dearing. "We knew it was going to be tough, so we put our best out there and got the win early."
Both teams took advantage of an error on a pickoff move to first to get a run on the board in the opening frame. 6-4-3 would take control of the contest in the top of the second. Two walks and a hit batter loaded the bases with no one out in the inning. After a Dallas Tigers pitching change, Jacob Tolson came through with an RBI single to plate the go-ahead run. The big blow of the inning would come one batter later, however, as Caelen Towe ripped a two-run single into the gap in right-center to make it 4-1.
"My coach told me to keep my weight back and drive the ball to the opposite field," Towe said. "I did that, hit it into the gap, and scored two runs."
The scoring would continue as Cole Eison lifted a sacrifice fly to left to plate the fourth run of the inning and give 6-4-3 a 5-1 lead.
After a lengthy first two innings, both teams would go quickly in the third. In the fourth, 6-4-3 tacked on a pair of insurance runs. Two walks and a bunt single loaded the bases for Kyle Chatham, who walked to force home the first run. Eison then stepped into the batter's box and delivered a run-scoring single to make it 7-1.
In the bottom of the inning, the Dallas Tigers wouldn't go away quietly as a pair of walks and a double steal let Blaise Pettry score to make it 7-2. With two men out, Colby Porter singled back up the middle to score Eric Bacon to make it 7-3. That would be as close as the Dallas Tigers would get, however, as 6-4-3 used a strikeout to win the contest.
"Now there's not as much pressure," Towe said. "We don't have to come out and grind as hard since we have that first win."
"This win changes the way we play from here on out," said Coach Dearing. "Now I can take my chances, use some different pitchers, give some different guys some opportunities, and try to save some stuff for bracket play."
6-4-3 DP improves to 1-0 in Pool D, while Dallas Tigers East slips to 0-1 in pool C.
By Kyle Koso
The Dirtbags Camo 11u baseball team found itself in a standoff, but that all changed when the squad decided to blast off.
Tied 5-all with the Dallas Raiders Silver in the opening game Wednesday of the U.S. Club Nationals at East Cobb Park, the Dirtbags (NC) hit around in the bottom of the fourth inning, scoring seven runs in the frame and ultimately posting a 12-5 victory. Starting pitcher Dylan England threw five complete innings to get the win, with just one pitch that he'd prefer to do over that became a bases-clearing double in the top of the second.
Seven different players had at least one RBI for the Dirtbags.
"We were waiting, but we knew if we could settle in we could start hitting," said Dirtbags coach Richard Miller. "We finally did. This team has a great attitude; they work well together, support each other, and it's just a good team overall."
"It was hyped up in the dugout, and we were feeling pretty good," said Nate Eason, whose two-run double in the fourth made it 9-5. "I was thinking (my hit) should get the team pumped up."
The Raiders jumped ahead 4-0 with that double from Grayson Davis and a single from Alden Armor that fell between two outfielders. In the bottom of the second, a hit batter, four singles and an infield throwing error allowed the Dirtbags to tie it up.
Ethan Bognar dribbled a hit about 25 feet into the infield, enough to beat out a single and drive in Nate Revis to push the Dirtbags up, 5-4. The Raiders countered in the top of the fourth with Armor reaching first after getting hit by a pitch. On Austin Willis' perfect bunt, Armor kept running to third base (which was unoccupied), and he scored when an errant throw bounced away.
Meanwhile, England was particularly sharp. Other than the second inning, he allowed two hits, closing with six strikeouts.
"I was feeling confident," England said. "I just didn't want to give up any more runs after that double. I knew my defense would back me up, so I tried to throw strikes."
"He pitched very well, hitting the strike zone in and out, up and down. Anywhere I called it, he was placing it there," Miller added.
Carson Robertson reached base three times, scored twice and drove in two for the Dirtbags.
Before the competitive blood churns and the deep focus defines the U. S. Club Nationals baseball event, about 60 of the teams in the tournament took some time Tuesday to enjoy the sights and have some laughs at the Kickoff Celebration.
Held at The Battery entertainment complex just outside SunTrust Park, home of the Atlanta Braves, the Kickoff welcomed teams from 13 clubs across the country. Vendors and exhibits were perfect for teams and families to explore and challenge each other in good-natured competitions; teams were photographed on the first-base dugout inside SunTrust Park and were privy to free tours of the stadium.
YouTube sensation Domingo Ayala performed a 30-minute show that had his many fans laughing, and when the afternoon was done, hundreds of people descended onto the multiple restaurants in easy walking distance.
But soon enough, talk about the tournament was easy to hear. Teams compete for their age group titles, as is typical, but the event ultimately crowns the best club finish, using points earned from each age group to determine who was the deepest, strongest organization in the mix. Games begin Wednesday, with championship day set for Saturday.
"I think it's a great event; you've got 13 of the top organizations from around the country playing in this kind of a competitive setting," said Jay Andrews, CFO and office administrator for Georgia's own 6-4-3 DP Baseball. "A lot of people know this part of the country is known for youth baseball, and we get a lot of national events, but we feel great about the good games and good baseball coming this week.
"It is a great situation - we actually encourage it where, you have a 12-year-old team playing, but if the 9's at the other end aren't playing, they come into to dugout to cheer the 12s. We are big on that kind of camaraderie."
"It's a good tournament - we obviously wanted to come back and compete, as we came up a little short last year. The competition is always good," said Slammers (CO) general manager Bryant Asnicar. "This wraps our summer up; we spend about eight weeks on the road, and this is a good ending place for us to bring it together, close out the summer and move into the fall."
A few of these young athletes are veterans of the event, including 12-year-old Sean Benjamin of the Five Star Tigers (FL).
"It's a good atmosphere -- with all the other teams in the organization here, it's fun to watch them play and win," Benjamin said. "You play against some good teams and have a good time with the organization. You don't have a lot of tournaments like this, so it's a fun time to play together. There are a few good teams here who can play a little bit, so I'm ready to see how it goes."
The U.S. Club Nationals will roll into its third year for this unique championship event that will challenge the best programs in the nation. In two weeks, baseball clubs will travel to East Cobb, Georgia to begin the battle for something bigger than just their specific age group as clubs will send 4-6 teams, ages 9u-14u. The individual teams will compete in their division for the age-group title, but the final standings in all divisions will be factored into determining the Organization National Champion.
Triple Crown Sports has offered exclusive invitations to the country's most highly skilled and rigorously organized baseball clubs to participate. The 2018 lineup will feature 13 organizations including 6-4-3 DP Baseball (GA), Canes (NC), Central Alabama Nationals (AL), Dallas Patriots (TX), Dallas Raiders (TX), Dallas Tigers (TX), Dirtbags Baseball (NC), East Cobb Baseball (GA), Five Star Tigers (FL), Georgia Bombers (GA), Lone Star Baseball Club (TX), SBA Canes (NC) and the Slammers (CO).
The 2017 U.S. Club Nationals brought a stellar year of competition featuring programs from around the country. East Cobb claimed the overall crown, winning age group titles in 12u and 14u. Five Stars Tigers won the 9u, 10u and 11u championships, and the Dallas Tigers took first place in 13u.
The 2018 U.S. Club Nationals Kickoff is set for July 24th from 2-6 p.m. at The Battery Atlanta. Teams are required to attend for check-in but we have a feeling that players, coaches and families will want to stick around for the Domingo Ayala show, SunTrust Park stadium tour, TC media interaction, amazing vendors and local shops and restaurants within walking distance. The night will conclude with a managers meeting.
USCN has partnered with some of Georgia’s hotspots to take your event experience to the next level. A few of the event partners, including the College Football Hall of Fame, Mizuno Experience Center and TopGolf, will have booths at the Kickoff to offer all sorts of special coupons. The event partners list also comprises the Georgia Aquarium, Six Flags Over Georgia, World of Coca-Cola, Stars and Strikes, Atlanta Zoo, Atlanta Braves and more! There are plenty of ways to beat the heat and enjoy your time in GA. Go to https://www.usclubnationals.com/event-partners.html to check out all the discounts and deals.
The 5-game guarantee begins on Wednesday, July 25th and runs through Saturday. Triple Crown is proud to partner with ESPN3 to conduct a live broadcast of the 13u and 14u championship games. When the dust has settled on July 28th, we will crown the 2018 U.S. Club Nationals individual team and overall organization champions!
Visit https://www.usclubnationals.com/ for more information on schedules, facilities, event partners and also to order your exclusive USCN team hats.