Twin City captures USABA title
The Twin City Twins won the USABA 15-and-under World Series 15-8 against the Langley Blaze in a slugfest Sunday at James Lee Regional Park in Indian Hills.
From the opening pitch, balls were flying off both teams’ bats, as Langley, the survivor of the losers bracket, and the Twins, who never lost in the double elimination portion of the tournament, both batted through their lineup in the first inning.
The Blaze, a battle-tested team from British Columbia that won the Canadian national title and played in the world championships last year, got off to a solid start when they rocked Twins start Phil Matcham for three runs in the top of the first inning.
John Syrnyk, the tournament’s top hitter with a batting average of nearly .700, lead off with a single for Langley and stole second. Right fielder Andrew Mallery knocked him in with a double and scored himself on a double by Brendon Osborn. Langley would get their third run when Matcham walked Matt Watt with the bases loaded.
Despite being three runs in the hole, Twin City Head Coach George Chandler wasn’t worried.
“In a tournament like this, the championship game will always be a slugfest because the pitching will be down,” Chandler said. “After all the games and innings, their arms get tired. I knew we could swing it.”
Twin City proved their coach right when they jumped on Langley starter Dayne Wadden in the bottom of the first.
After getting two strikes on Twin City leadoff batter Taylor Williams, Wadden hit Williams with a pitch. Wadden would get ahead of the count on many of the Twins, but never could finish them off.
Tournament MVP Wesley Dorrell, who was 3-for-4 on the day and finished the tournament with 10 RBIs and a batting average well over .400, followed with a ground rule double, putting runners on second and third with no outs.
“That kid is going to make a D1 coach very happy someday,” Chandler said of Dorrell. “He can flat out hit, and has been doing it with these guys since he was 8.”
Williams and Dorrell would both score on two squeakers through the left side of the infield. Holden Sprague tied the game with an RBI single, and the Twins would take the lead when Wadden walked home another run.
After one inning of play, seven runs were on the scoreboard, but many more were still to come.
Matcham calmed down the Langley bats in the top of the second, not allowing a hit and striking out two.
Unfortunately for the Blaze, Wadden couldn’t do the same.
The Twins scored two more runs in the bottom of the second behind tournament Runner-Up MVP Kyle Cowger’s double over the left fielder’s head, bringing in both runs. Cowger finished the tournament with a batting average over .500.
Langley came storming back in the third when Matcham walked the first two batters and the Blaze played small ball to get them home. With a sacrifice bunt, a grounder to the right side and a single by Kevin Ratcliffe, Langley moved within one run of the lead. Matcham got into more trouble after Syrnyk singled when he walked the bases loaded. The game-tying run scored on a check-swing infield single by the next batter.
With the game tied and his team coming to bat, Chandler called his players together and told them to get back into the game. Apparently it worked.
Matcham hit a double to the warning track, and after a walk and a bunt single, the Twins had the bases loaded with no outs. Dorrell proved once again why he should be the MVP with a mammoth shot to deep center that bounced over the wall with one hop, bringing in two runners and knocking Wadden out of the game. New pitcher Tommy Scarr didn’t fair any better, loading the bases before getting yanked without ever recording an out. Osborn came in for relief and allowed three more runs to cross the plate, including one on a balk, before finally getting Langley out of the inning.
However, the damage had been done. Twin City scored seven runs in the third and never were close to giving up the lead after that.
That was mostly due to the new pitchers — Korey Gerdts for Twin City and Langley’s Justin Robinson, who was named the Tournament’s top pitcher with 17 innings, 26 strikeouts and an ERA under 3.00 — made the second-half of the game more of a pitcher’s duel. After a combined 19 runners crossed the plate in the first three innings, only four would do so afterward.
Robinson held Twin City scoreless in the fourth and fifth innings, the only times that happened all game. Gerdts was equally as dominant, allowing Langley two runs in three innings before surrendering to Holden Sprague, who shut down the Blaze in order in the seventh to close the game.
Twin City, a team that has been playing together for three years and finished sixth in the World Series in Cooperstown, N.Y., when they were 12, ran onto the field in euphoria after the final out yelling, “We’re World Champions!”
And their coach gave them all the credit.
“To come up here and not sleep in your own bed and play in this heat against this competition, it really is a feather in their cap,” Chandler said. “We just kept battling. They did it all. I didn’t do anything out there on the field.”
Chandler, who said the key to victory was his pitching depth, was also proud of the team effort.
“This is a pay-to-play traveling team, so I tried to play them all as much as I could. Even if they weren’t playing, they were always into the game; watching it pressed against the dugout fence,” he said. “I came here with 14 kids and every one of them got at least six starts. That’s the best thing. It wasn’t just one guy; everyone got hits. Everyone drove in runs.”
And they all can call themselves champions.
Notes: The World Series will come back to Douglas County next year, tournament director Dennis Young said. Young said next year the tournament, which hosted nine teams this year, will get bigger and better. He also wanted to thank everyone who contributed to the tournament, especially Wade Greenlee, who announced and kept score for the games at James Lee, John Duffey, who worked at Lampe Park, Simone Whalin and all the grounds crews.