by Marcos Aragon
CHANDLER — After upsetting the top seed in the 11u bracket Sunday, the No.4 seed Golden Spike Pirates continued the theme and earned the title at the Arizona Spring Championships after defeating the Midland Bandits Black, 10-7.
Golden Spike’s Crosby McGreal said the team was riding high off of their victory over top-ranked Swarm.
“I was kind of happy. I had a feeling we were going to win since we beat the no.1 seed, and our team was playing really good.”
The Pirates (Las Vegas, NV) started the game off hot by scoring four runs in the first inning. Mitch Walker drove in a run to get the scoring started, followed by McGreal hitting an RBI single; later a huge two-run inside the park home run by Jayson Marquez put the Pirates ahead at the end of the inning.
Golden Spikes head coach Scott Haney explained that his team had a bit of an advantage on Sunday because they were the visitors both times. Haney noted that the opportunity to put points on the board first was big for his team’s mentality.
“That right there is a huge confidence builder for the boys,” Haney said. “If they can go up three or four runs and shut down that first inning — it’s a good recipe.”
Golden Spikes added two more runs in the second inning, putting some added pressure on Midland to come back from 6-0. The Bandits (Midland, TX) responded by posting three runs in the bottom of the second and third inning to tie the game at 6-6.
With everything tied heading into the fifth inning, Midland’s Cisco Rodriguez drove in a run with two outs to put the Bandits ahead, 7-6.
The Pirates’ Santiago Cocon was the team’s pitcher from the third inning on. He said that he was nervous at first because he didn’t want to surrender the lead, but had faith in his team’s offense to bring them back if necessary.
“I felt pretty confident when we came up to bat that we might come back and take the lead,” Cocon said.
Golden Spike’s Mitchell Walker said he was also a little nervous going into the inning, especially as the leadoff hitter, but his nerves were quickly calmed after he got the hit.
“As soon as I led it off with a hit and then (McGreal) got a hit, I thought we were going to score at least a couple runs,” Walker said. “I was pretty confident in our team and our hitting because our hitting has been good this weekend.”
Like Cocon predicted, the hot bats of the the Pirates returned in the top of the sixth inning where Marquez hit a deep triple and brought two runners home to give Golden Spikes the lead. Jordan Haney was next to bat and drilled the ball deep and used his speed to earn the two-run inside the park home run.
After the final out of the game and all the celebrating was completed, Haney knew his team would enjoy their moment but still have baseball on their minds.
“It’s huge for the boys. We haven’t had a big championship win like this in a while,” Haney said. “We’re getting ready for Steamboat Springs in July. So it’s great for building for us and we have all spring to play.”
Meanwhile, Jordan Haney echoed his coach’s thoughts about keeping sharp until their next tournament. And with a laugh, he said the first thing he was going to do after winning the title is just go home.
“I’m probably going to play games, play baseball, and keep practicing so we can keep getting better,” he said.