By Tanner Puckett
The 13u Warhawks Baseball-Dodson squad brought some of the Colorado chill with them Friday to the desert as they cooled the bats of VCBA for a 2-0 win in their first game of pool play during the Triple Crown Arizona Spring Championships.
The victory was powered by two strong showings from Warhawk pitchers Brock Lansville and Jack Perotti, who combined to limit VCBA (Thousand Oaks, CA) to two hits.
“I thought our pitchers were outstanding,” head coach Brooks Dodson said. “Brock started us out very well. He established his fastball, had good location and total command. Jack came in and gave much of the same but from the left side, working his breaking ball and off-speed stuff.”
Lansville and Perotti, throwing three and four innings respectively, were at their best with runners in scoring position. VCBA batters were 0-for-12 with nine strikeouts and three walks in those chances.
“That’s a point of emphasis for us. You’re always one pitch away from getting yourself in a situation where you’re going to have to bear down,” Dodson said.
The first situation came early, in the top of the first inning. VCBA’s Cade Falsken connected for a loud a leadoff triple, followed by a walk and stolen base by Michael Moran to put two runners in scoring position with no outs.
Lansville responded by striking out the next two batters and inducing a short popup to second base.
A similar situation came in the final inning, when a hit batter, flyout to right field and single to center put Perotti in a tough spot on the mound. He worked back to strike out the final two batters of the game, the final pitch a full, sweeping breaking ball that induced an empty swing.
Perotti said there’s no change in his approach when the pressure is on. “My dad always taught me, no matter what happens, just throw,” he said.
Though Perotti had already thrown three innings before taking the mound again in the seventh, the coaching staff didn’t hesitate to give him the ball again.
“He was in total control,” Dodson said. “His pitch count was low. When he got to his fourth inning, he was only at 41 pitches. He was in control and it was his game to win.”
In addition to their poised performances on the mound, Lansville and Perotti drove in both of the Warhawks’ runs in the contest.
Perotti delivered in the first with a deep triple to give the Warhawks the lead. Lansville added a late insurance run in the bottom of the sixth with a single.
“I was just trying to do my job and at least move the runner into scoring position,” Perotti said.
Both runs were scored by William Garduno, who finished the day with a triple, two walks and two stolen bases. His stolen bases were responsible for moving him into scoring position before the big hits from Perotti and Lansville.
Speed on the basepaths is an asset Garduno tries to use to the fullest. “When I get on base, I try to set my team up to score,” he said.
Though clutch hits and strong pitching took the spotlight in today’s game, a strong defensive effort from the Warhawks’ Macoy Terry saved what would have easily been a game-tying hit in the third.
With runners on the corners, Terry quickly gloved a line shot to first, stepping on the bag for the unassisted double play and keeping the shutout intact.
Perhaps most impressive is that the Warhawks delivered the strong all-around performance on little rest. Most of the team was delayed due to the inclement weather in Colorado.
“Half of the team got in last night, the other half got in Wednesday,” Dodson said. “Due to that we were a little lethargic at the plate – we had some tired kids.”
This was also just the second weekend of the year that the team was able to compete outside, which can always have an impact with preparation.
“We’ve been stuck in cages. To get out here and compete like they did, you can tell they’re hungry,” Dodson said.
Despite the fatigue and lack of outdoor playing time, the Warhawks didn’t seem fazed when all was said and done. Dodson is right – the hunger shows.
“It feels awesome to start with a win,” Garduno said. “We’re going to roll with that and we’re going to go far.”
For more than 15 years, Triple Crown Baseball has laid the groundwork and opened the doors for youth baseball programs to launch the season with a purpose, and with a sense of perspective.
The 2019 Arizona Spring Championships, held over two sessions (March 7-10 and 14-17) in greater Phoenix, flexes a lot of muscle on the tournament calendar by offering competitive brackets while giving teams and families a vacation-friendly setting when away from the fields. The tournament will feature 280 teams overall (up 30 from last year), from 12 states, the District of Columbia and Mexico; logically, the western half of the country is all in, but the event also welcomes teams from Wisconsin, Iowa, Oklahoma, Texas and Kansas.
“There’s a lot of history and momentum that makes this event a priority for teams as they figure out how to start their seasons,” said event director Matt Pilcher. “But Triple Crown is careful and respectful with the enthusiasm our teams bring, as we are constantly working with field complexes, umpire groups and hotels to make sure the fundamental pieces of each session are solid.”
The event format includes the Cactus Bracket, which gives teams two extra games and adds enormous value to teams that are trying out players in new positions, or maybe exploring options for the pitching staff. The Arizona Spring Championships help take away some of mystery and unknowns within each roster.
Session 2 will feature an appearance from noted YouTube personality Domingo Ayala; his show will start at 6 p.m. Saturday, March 16 at Chaparral Park, 5401 N. Hayden Road, Scottsdale, AZ.
While Phoenix has no shortage of places to explore, the balance of the youth teams coming to town make a point to check out MLB Spring Training games – there are 15 MLB franchises that work out the winter kinks in the Cactus League, playing within a radius of 50 miles of each other. There’s always a good fit if you’re looking to catch a game.
Follow the scores and brackets of the Arizona Spring Championships on Tourney Machine:
One of the common refrains you hear from teams making their way to the Triple Crown Arizona Spring Championships is just how lucky everyone feels to be heading to the desert while winter’s chill is making summer seem like a million miles away.
During your trip in the greater Phoenix area, there will be opportunities to slip away from the tournament to enjoy the region’s unique flair and fun. Here are five activities to consider:
MLB SPRING TRAINING – If you’re playing baseball, chances are you’re a fan of the big leagues as well. Coming to Arizona in March offers the opportunity to see the MLB in a fresh light – young prospects looking to make an impact, and veteran players working out the kinks in an up-close-and-personal setting, almost nothing like you’ll experience in the regular season. The Cactus League features 15 MLB teams in a tight radius in greater Phoenix.
DESERT BOTANICAL GARDEN – Thousands of plant species and a riotous variety of color and texture make the Garden a rewarding destination; it’s always amazing to consider the mix of plants, flowers, trees and cacti that are natural, native inhabitants of Arizona.
SCOTTSDALE – If the mood strikes for a little culture, head to this northern suburb. The restaurants, shopping and art galleries are defined by the finer touches in appearance and style, offering a full-on break from the ballpark experience.
GOLF – If you love to play, your time in and around Phoenix puts you on the doorstep of hundreds of courses, suitable for beginners through experts. Should you get enough time away from the ballpark, tee it up, especially because the weather is ideal – this diversion is a lot more of a challenge in summertime.
SUPERSTITION MOUNTAINS – On the east side of the metro area sits the jagged, jaw-dropping beauty of the Superstition Mountains, home of numerous hiking trails that can be as challenging as you desire. Again, tackle these powerfully gorgeous vistas in springtime, when conditions make it a pleasurable journey.
FORT COLLINS, Colo. – In one of the all-time upsets in sports history, beloved YouTube baseball mainstay Domingo Ayala has yet to be signed to a major league deal – their loss is your gain, as Triple Crown Sports has announced plans for eight stops on the 2019 TC Baseball Domingo Ayala Tour.
This will be the fourth year TC baseball and Domingo have joined forces. He has performed in a variety of settings, from indoor sports facilities, sports complexes, youth baseball fundraisers, corporate events and even in MLB locker rooms. Ayala’s unconventional journey to excellence provides a great deal of comedic material that sports fans have embraced over the years.
His batting and pitching stats are awe-inspiring, as are the following numbers:
YouTube: Over 175 videos, 33 million+ views and 160,000 subscribers
Facebook: More than 265,000 followers
Instagram: 218,000 followers
Twitter: 82,500 followers
Here’s the schedule for the 2019 Domingo Ayala TCS Tour:
March 16 – Arizona Spring Championships, Phoenix
May 26 – Bend, OR Elks Memorial Day Tournament
June 13-14 – Omaha SlumpBuster, Session 1
June 20-21 – Omaha SlumpBuster, Session 3
July 5 – Big South Regional Championship, Nashville TN
July 16 – U.S. Club Nationals, Atlanta
July 22 – TCS World Series, Park City, UT
July 30 – TCS World Series, Steamboat Springs, CO
“Triple Crown Baseball has always pushed the margins when it comes to what a tournament experience can look like, and we are very pleased to partner with Domingo Ayala for yet another season,” said Sean Hardy, VP of Sports at TCS. “His skills as a player are only topped by his abilities as an entertainer, and his command of an audience creates that extra level of fun for all ages.”
Look for details on upcoming appearances at www.domingobeisbol.com
About Domingo Ayala
At the age of 2, Domingo Ayala started playing baseball. It wasn't long after that when he became one of the best players in his hometown of Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic. In his pursuit to make it to the MLB, Ayala packed his bags and moved to the United States.
Now, the self-proclaimed best baseball player in the world still claims to be 17 years old. Though many believe him to be slightly older, no one has seen a birth certificate to disprove his claim. As he travels the world teaching baseball, his ultimate goal is still to make it to the big leagues.
About Triple Crown Sports
Based in Fort Collins, CO., Triple Crown Sports has been producing college and youth events for more than 35 years, with more than 90 events scheduled for 2019 in the arenas of youth baseball, fastpitch, basketball, lacrosse and volleyball. The TCS footprint includes both the preseason and postseason WNIT basketball events and the men’s and women’s Cancun Challenge tournaments in November. Triple Crown is also powering “WNIT” concept events in D-I softball (NISC) and volleyball (NIVC), with those two events debuting in 2017. TCS youth fastpitch tournaments (including the 900-team Sparkler/Fireworks event) draw the nation’s finest club programs, and hundreds of college coaches attend TCS events for recruiting purposes.
by Bradey King
After a close battle in pool play on Saturday, Big West Elite Baseball (San Clemente, CA) and Triple Play (Bakersfield, CA) faced off for a second time in the 10u Division 1 championship game at the Arizona Spring Championships.
West won the pool play game, and more significantly, also nabbed the 6-5 victory in the 10u final.
“We definitely had a lot more confidence knowing we had beat them the day before,” said head coach Pac Gutierrez.
Triple Play put two runs on the board in the first inning, but West quickly matched that in the bottom half by drawing three walks and stringing together a few timely hits to take the lead 4-2 and force a pitching change.
West kept the momentum rolling into the second inning as Noah Wineski smashed a line drive to the left-center fence for an RBI.
In the top of the third inning, Triple Play took advantage of an infield error, a dropped third strike and a passed ball to plate one, making the score 5-3. West responded once again in the bottom of the fourth with back-to-back singles and another RBI rip from Wineski.
Just when the game seemed to be leaning in West’s favor, Triple Play put up a huge fifth inning to tie it up, 6-all. Not for long, though, as a one-out double followed up by an RBI single from Corwin Allard sealed the deal.
If there was an MVP award to give out, it certainly would have gone to Allard. He threw five solid innings while striking out five batters. In addition, he had an outstanding offensive performance going 2-for-3 at the plate with two RBI, one of those being the game-winner.
“I feel very confident on the mound. Every single inning my teammates score, I’m like okay, there’s another run to back me up,” said Allard.
West cruised through the last inning to hold off Triple Play and take home the hardware. Parker Bruggerman was all smiles as he ran in from left field to celebrate with his teammates after catching the fly ball for the third out.
“It felt really good to get the last out of the game, and I feel pretty confident we’re gonna win a lot this season,” said Bruggerman.
Coach Gutierrez agreed and applauded his team for their consistent energy the entire tournament.
“Between every inning I tell them to play as a family, stay loud, have good energy and good things will happen,” added Gutierrez.
Here are the other division winners for Session 2 of the Arizona Spring Championships:
9u -- SoCal Wolves (Mission Hills, CA)
11u D1 -- Twelve Black (Katy, TX)
11u D2 -- NorCal Prospects (Danville, CA)
12u -- Dugout Glory (Kilgore, TX)
13u D1 -- OC Tribe (Laguna Niguel, CA)
13u D2 -- Heat Baseball (San Jose, CA)
14u D1 -- South Bay Hustle (South Bay, CA)
14u D2 -- Desert Bandits (Phoenix, AZ)
by Bradey King
The 14u Division 1 Nevada Road Dawgs out of Las Vegas, NV took down WW Sweets (Redmond, WA) in walk-off fashion on Saturday morning at the Arizona Spring Championships, winning their pool play game by a 5-4 margin.
The Sweets got on the board first, scoring a run in the top of second. However, the Dawgs offense didn’t explode until the fourth inning. The middle of their lineup produced back-to-back singles, followed by a Sweets error that loaded the bases. An RBI single from Thomas Crafard scored one run, later followed by a wild pitch that allowed the Dawgs to tack on two more runs and make the score 3-1.
The Sweets rallied in the top of the fifth to tie it up and put some pressure back on the Dawgs. The team responded by getting a base runner on, advancing him, stealing third and then scoring off of a clutch two-out RBI single from Jordan Bowman.
Bowman took the mound the next inning to close out the game but struggled to find the strike zone. He walked three consecutive batters, allowing the Sweets to score and tie up the game once again. After a mound meeting with his coach, Bowman flipped a switch and struck out the next two batters to get out of the inning.
“He told me to just relax and throw strikes,” said Bowman.
In the Dawgs last chance to win the game, they strung together some timely hits. With two outs and the winning run on third base, the fate of the game was on Ryan Watkins’ shoulders. He got the job done, crushing a walk-off single into the 5-6 hole.
“I told myself to hit the ball in the gap somewhere and hit it on the ground,” said Watkins.
The Dawgs finished with eight hits and earned their first win of the tournament after facing a tough loss the game prior. Head coach Jewell Williams was pleased to see his team bounce back.
“The first game the boys came off pretty flat. In this game we just made routine plays. Like I told them from Day 1, if you made routine plays and pitchers throw first-pitch strikes, we’re gonna win a lot of ball games,” said Williams.
by Bradey King
For two teams at the Arizona Spring Championships, a determined effort didn’t necessarily mean one could determine a winner.
In 11u D1 pool play action on Friday night, the Dallas Tigers based out of Forney, Texas and Easton Elite (La Habra, CA) squared off, two talented squads that were evenly matched and played to a final score reflecting that very fact. The back and forth battle resulted in a 3-3 tie.
The Tigers jumped out on top immediately in the first inning with a one-out single from Mason Erwin, followed up with a stolen base and a pickoff error that sent him flying all the way home to score.
After that, both teams remained scoreless until a leadoff bunt for a base hit finally got things rolling for Elite in the bottom of the third inning. A similar scenario played out as Elite stole second base, moved up to third on a wild pitch and scored on an RBI single to tie it up.
The rest of the game was a pitching duel. The Tigers threw five different pitchers and catcher, Kade Bazzell, wasn’t fazed by the changes in speeds and accuracy from his pitchers each inning. He was a wall behind the plate and demonstrated a lot of consistency and leadership.
“I just do my thing so my teammates can trust me, “ Kade said.
Kade’s father and Tigers head coach Keith Bazzell’s game plan involved utilizing his team’s wheels. Despite being undersized, they found ways to create havoc by bunting and stealing bases in order to compete with Elite’s roster.
“We always go after kids with speed and aggressiveness and guys that want to be out on the field. We’ll get the bats rolling, but we figured out how to manufacture runs tonight which was good,” added Bazzell.
While the Tigers threw multiple pitchers, Easton Elite relied on Brandon Garcia to hold it down on the mound. He faced several Tigers scoring threats and responded with crucial strikeouts. Brandon was equally as dominating on offense. His clutch line-drive single to centerfield in the fifth inning became the run that came around to score and give Elite a 2-1 lead. Time and time again he overcame pressure situations.
“Like my dad always says when he comes out to talk to me on the mound, I’ve just gotta keep the fire! Something might hold me down but I can break through,” said Garcia.
Like any great baseball game, the final inning was a nail-biter. The Tigers capitalized on a couple of Elite errors of which were direct results of the smart coaching decision to double-steal third base. The catcher overthrew his third baseman and as the ball rolled down the left field line, the Tigers plated two runs to give them a 3-2 lead going into the bottom half of the inning.
Elite applied some pressure of their own and it fittingly came down to a bases- loaded, two-out, 3-2-count situation. The pitch delivered by Tigers closer Landon Ammerman was just high and out of the strike zone to walk in the tying run. Although disappointed, he stayed focused and got a routine groundball out to end the game.
“I was kinda nervous for the last inning, but I just took a deep breath before every pitch and that helps me,” said Ammerman, who contributed a single, double and scored a run to lift his team on offense.
Both teams remained eager for Day 2 of the Arizona Spring Championships which begins Saturday morning at 8 a.m.
by Bradey King
At the start of pool play Friday at the Arizona Spring Championships, the 9u Amarillo Dragons brought their sticks in a 15-5 victory over Gwynn Baseball out of California.
The game was a prime example of a “team win” as the Dragons combined for nearly 20 hits, most of those being bombs for extra bases. Solid pitching and defense backed the powerful hitting performance.
While most teams’ rosters tend to change year after year, head coach Dennis Davison was proud to announce that the majority of his young Dragons have been playing baseball together since they were five years old, which is both rare and special.
“We’re a unique team in Amarillo because we’re one of the only teams that doesn’t cut players. We don’t host tryouts, so unless someone quits we don’t have an opening on our roster,” said Davison.
This organizational approach seems to work in the Dragons favor as the chemistry, solid fundamentals and confidence among this young team was obvious and fun to watch.
“At this age the mentality is to just put the ball in play and good things happen. We also teach our pitchers to pitch to contact, because we believe our defense is good enough to get the other team out,” Davison added.
Whether it was a perfect bunt, RBI triple, stolen base or double play, every Dragons player contributed a “standout” performance during Friday’s outing. Therefore, it was only appropriate that Triple Crown media caught up with multiple players after the game. Tyler Davison, Tanner Snider, Samuel Ramirez, Trey Bass, Dawson Lanham and Brighton McNabb shared their thoughts on the win and excitement about being in Arizona during Spring Training for Major League Baseball.
“I’ve already got two baseballs full of MLB autographs,“ exclaimed the coaches son, Tyler Davison.
All six players agreed that batting and watching MLB games are their favorite parts of the sport and this specific Arizona Spring Championships experience. The Dragons plan to grab a few more W’s and continue to learn a lot in the next few days.
“I learned stuff on defense today, like how to throw it in from the outfield and not short-arm it,” Ramirez said.
Young Davison jokingly added, “I learned to never catch Brighton (McNabb) again. He throws too hard…like 60 miles per hour!”
The team was headed to cheer on the Texas Rangers later Friday and will be back on the diamond themselves Saturday at 12:15 p.m.
by Bradey King
It’s no surprise that the Triple Crown Arizona Spring Championships is the ideal spring break destination for a young baseball player. The opportunity to compete in a high caliber tournament and also watch their MLB idols at Spring Training is unlike any other experience. The sunny and 75-degree weather is the cherry on top.
Session 2 of the Spring Championships opened up Thursday morning and is off and running with more than 100 teams from states all across the country. Day 1 consisted of two “practice” games for each team. Coaches seemed to utilize their entire roster, giving everyone the chance to play and get comfortable at the plate and on the mound before tournament play begins Friday.
Head coach Ray Atkinson and his NW Bandits 13’s team from Seattle, Washington said that this is a can’t-miss event. This weekend marks the sixth time they’ve made the trip to Arizona.
“This is our version of Spring Training. It starts our season off right. We get great weather and a lot of good games, so we come every year,” said Atkinson.
Most teams wrapped up their games around noon today with plans of heading to the Spring Training games tonight. A very excited NW Bandits player, Micah Coleman, is eager to cheer on the Diamondbacks.
“The best part of the tournament so far is probably the sun! We’re gonna go to the Spring Training games, too. My favorite player on the Diamondbacks is Jake Lamb,” said Coleman.
While the weather in California is pretty comparable to Arizona this time of year, the DBA Crushers – Silver from Danville, California come to this event to see where they stack up against the solid competition it offers.
“I liked today’s format,” said Crushers coach Devin Rocha, who agreed the tournament was a good fit for his squad on multiple levels. “I was able to throw every single one of my pitchers.”
Pool play begins Friday morning in all age groups, with the event wrapping up on Championship Day later on Sunday.
Set aside about 90 minutes on the evening of Saturday, March 17 and come meet MLB players Joc Pederson and Trevor Story during the Triple Crown Arizona Spring Championships!
The night begins at 6 p.m. on Field 6 at Chaparral Park in Scottsdale, where baseball fans want to be as famous YouTube personality Domingo Ayala takes the microphone. Have some laughs and enjoy the show; then at 6:30 p.m., the team from isplack (the colored eye black product that unites in color) welcomes Joc Pederson of the L.A. Dodgers and Trevor Story of the Colorado Rockies.
Hear what these MLB players have to say about life in the big leagues and their time in youth travel ball; we’ll do a bat and hat giveaway and run a few drills with some of the youth ballplayers on hand. There will be photo opportunities as well.
Chaparral Park is located at 5401 N Hayden Rd. Scottsdale, AZ, 85250.