by Thomas Hoffman
Following two dramatic walk-off victories, the 13u Five Star Tigers were looking for something with a little less tension in the semifinal matchup against the Dallas Tigers. Amassing 21 runs in four innings, Five Star cruised to the championship game, 21-6.
“This team has had the same approach for a while now,” said head coach Andy Burress. “They’ve played together for a long time. We attack the baseball, and that’s an organizational thing that we’ve had for 15 years.”
After giving up a run in the top of the first inning, Five Star erupted for seven runs in the bottom half. In total, 12 batters came to the plate for the Tigers. The inning was highlighted by back-to-back two-RBI doubles from Hayden Freese and Robert Lane.
“I was looking for fastballs,” said Lane. “If I didn’t get a fastball, I wasn’t going to swing. When I did get the fastball, I smashed it.”
Dallas retaliated well after giving up a crooked number. The Tigers batted a round of their own, sending nine players to the plat. Jhett Creel, Aidan Esquivel and Jason Miller all deliver RBI for a four-run answer, closing the gap, 7-5.
“When the game got close, we tried to keep the energy level up,” said Freese. “We didn’t want them to get any more runs back and we wanted to put the pedal to the metal.”
Every Five Star batter saw at least one plate appearance for the second straight inning. Matching the effort in the opening frame, the Tigers combined for another seven runs. Drew Burress’ three-run bomb was a small part of the big inning that stretched the Five Sta lead, 14-5.
“In the game of baseball, you have to have different guys step up,” said coach Burress. “Our best starter didn’t have it today, but we made it up with hits like Drew’s.”
As Dallas went quiet on the offensive end, Five Star looked to put the game out of reach in the bottom of the third inning. Brooks Brannon and Hayden Freese remained hot as they plated three more runs, extending the margin, 17-5.
In the bottom of the fourth, Five Star need four runs to officially close out the contest. Drew Burress’ second extra-base effort of the afternoon signaled the start of another big inning. Three batters later, Ethan Garner knocked in Riley Jackson to make the run-rule official, 21-6.
“We’ve been good all week long,” said Freese. “At this point in the week, it’s just about remaining true to what we’ve done, keep up the intensity and bring the defense.”
Five Star will await the winner of the all Dallas semifinal as the Patriots take on the Tigers Saturday morning.
“There’s a lot of good teams here,” said Burress. “As an organization, we’ve had success in the lower age groups.
“We were determined to make a good showing in the 13’s and 14’s this year. I’m proud of this group of kids and what they’ve proved they can do so far. I have no doubt they’ll come out tomorrow with the same intensity.”