by Jason Hanes
MARIETTA, Ga. -- A complete-game effort on the mound by Chance Turner capped an emotional day as Canes – Barbour won the 14u championship at the Triple Crown US Club Nationals with an 8-2 victory over Lonestar Elite on Saturday afternoon at the East Cobb Complex.
“There’s a big range of emotions,” said head coach Kevin Barbour. “A lot of these kids have been together since they were six or seven years old. We’ve all been with the Canes organization for the past four or five years. Just to see them, even from the beginning of this year, to where they are now is special.”
In the championship game, it was two teams with small rosters that met up. Lonestar Elite only had 12 players on their roster, and due to injury, Canes – Barbour had just 12 players and one pinch hitter available.
“Lonestar had great athletes. All the teams had good athletes,” Barbour said. “Our team specifically, everybody pitched. That’s tough on arms. Plus, we have to protect the kids’ arms and keep them under a pitch limit. They pulled together. Everybody threw strikes, which was key, and our defense made the plays they needed to make.”
Lonestar Elite took the lead in the top of the third. With two men in scoring position and one out, DJ Pinkerton hit a ground ball towards short that was bobbled, allowing everyone to move up 90 feet, giving Lonestar Elite a 1-0 lead. One batter later, Miles Wallace lifted a sacrifice fly to deep left-center, plating the second run of the inning.
The Canes would get a run back in the bottom of the frame. Jake Barbour would walk, then steal second. A ground out to second put Barbour 90 feet away for Brett Fuller, who ripped a deep drive along the line in left for an RBI single to cut the lead in half.
A cacophony of miscues, combined with timely hitting, allowed the Canes to take the lead for good in the bottom of the fourth. Luke Brown struck out on a dropped third strike, and the throw to retire him at first would end up bouncing down the line in right, allowing the strikeout victim to reach second. During the next at bat, a pair of wild pitches would bring Brown home to make it 2-2.
Later in the inning, the Canes loaded the bases with two men out. A passed ball would let courtesy runner Andrew Schneider score to give the Canes the lead. A walk would then re-load the bases for Barbour. He would proceed to turn on a pitch and send it over the second baseman’s head into right center for a two-run single to make it 5-2. During the next at bat, Chance Turner would score on a wild pitch to complete the five-run inning and put the Canes up 6-2.
The Canes added two more in the fifth inning thanks to a balk-scoring run and an RBI hit by Tyler White. The 8-2 cushion would be more than enough for Turner, who would go the distance to pick up the win in the championship game.
Turner knew the expectations would be high pitching in the title game, but he knew it was something he could handle.
"They’re high. Definitely. But it’s nothing that I haven’t done before,” Turner said. “It’s nothing I can’t handle. I knew I could work low in the zone, let them hit it. I didn’t have to worry about striking people out. I could give up a deep fly ball and let my (outfielders) run get it, or I could get a ground ball and let my infielders get it.”
“This is a great tournament,” coach Barbour said. “We’ve had a great host. Triple Crown is a great organization. We’ve played eight or nine games in four days, but our kids stuck with the game plan. I was just really proud to watch it pay off.”