Oliver all over the place; pitching and big hit drives Oaks Elite to win in 14u AZ Spring Championships action
by Austin Green
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz . -- Braeden Oliver threw three solid innings in relief and smashed the game-winning RBI double at the plate, leading Oaks Elite 2026 from Westlake Village, Calif. to a 6-3 victory over Prosper, Tex.-based Canes Southwest Helton in 14uD1 action at the Triple Crown Arizona Spring Championships.
Jaden Holmes led off the bottom of the fifth with a walk, advanced to third on two straight groundouts, then scored when the Canes Southwest shortstop bungled the tag on a stolen base from Oaks Elite’s Chase Stewart, who ended up on third thanks to the error. Oliver then crushed a fly ball over the center fielder’s head, easily scoring Stewart.
“I was just trying to calm myself down, get a base hit up the middle and score the run from third,” Oliver said.
Oliver was thrown out at third base to end the inning after being waved around second by his father, Oaks Elite manager and third base coach Brian Oliver. But Oaks Elite tacked on two more insurance runs in the bottom of the sixth. After Braeden Smith and Tyler Starling led off the inning with a single and a walk, respectively, Joey Moore slapped a sinking line drive just out of the Canes left fielder’s reach to bring Smith home. Two batters later, Carson Richter lined a single into left to score Starling, capping a stretch of five straight Oaks batters reaching base to start the sixth.
“We were having really bad at bats early in the game,” Brian Oliver said. “We were just swinging at bad pitches, letting them get ahead in the count, lots of base running mistakes, you know, kind of a frustrating game. We didn't play all that well, but we still found a way to come through and get the W at the end.”
Oaks Elite did strike first in the bottom of the second when Richter stole second, advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored on a single from Holmes. But Canes Southwest came right back in the top of the third when Cannon Webb legged out an infield single, stole second, advanced to third on an error and scored on a squeeze bunt from Lathon Latiolais.
After Starling scored on a wild pitch in the bottom of the fourth, Canes took the lead in the fifth off of Braeden Oliver when Webb crushed a double to deep left field to score Grayson Myer, then came home on a sacrifice fly from Josh DeBons.
But as it did several times all game, Oaks Elite’s defense helped keep its pitching from getting into too much trouble. This time, it was Stewart at catcher who nabbed Latiolais attempting to steal second base after working a two-out walk. Two innings prior, it was Braeden Smith making a diving catch on a fly ball from DeBons to keep the game tied at one run apiece. In the top of the sixth, Braeden Oliver got some help from a nice play on a grounder from Graves at second base, and a sliding catch from Holmes in right field to end the inning.
“We always take pride in defense,” Brian Oliver said “We always have. These boys, they want to make all the routine plays and they do a great job.”