Park City Avalanche show grit
July 29, 2011
On Thursday morning, in what turned out to be one of the quirkier games of the Triple Crown baseball tournament, the hometown Park City Avalanche certainly exuded the maturity they acquired since their first game of the tournament.
The team comprised of 10 to 12 year olds from Park City and Salt Lake City fell to a Seattle-based team 16-1 Tuesday. However, in a rematch between the two teams Thursday morning, the Avalanche battled and battled some more, something that head coach Matt Strader said is a staple of his young team.
"We’ve been playing with some teams, but just one bad inning is costing us," he said.
After the Avalanche rallied to take an 11-8 lead, the Raptors from Washington state evened things up in the bottom of the inning.
Once a tie game expires, Triple Crown rules allow each team a shot to score a runner from second base. The Avalanche weren’t able to capitalize with runners on first and third and the Raptors went to the bottom of the inning with their turn with a runner on second base.
After the Raptors loaded the bases with no outs; a chopper to the second baseman was rifled home to get the force out at home. Although the runner appeared to be late to the plate, he was ruled safe and the Avalanche comeback from a 16-1 loss was for naught.
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"That was a tough one," Strader said.
Through Thursday morning, the Avalanche were 0-4 with games scheduled Friday morning and possibly Saturday. Strader said, his team suffered two heart-wrenching one-run losses in back-to-back days, but would be ready to finish out the tournament on a high note.
"We’ll beat them on the hill," he joked, "Or we’ll beat them on the baseball field. We had them today. We’ll get better. This group not everyone has played together. Everyone is starting to have some more fun."
Strader, who works for Basin Recreation, has been involved with Triple Crown over the last five years as the organization has chosen Park City to be the host of their 16U fastpitch softball tournament. However, this is the first year the Triple Crown baseball tournament has been held in Park City. When Strader heard the event was coming to town, he had to get a local team in the mix.
"We’ve got to have a local team," he said of his initial thoughts. "We had to have a representative. I just called the guy and worked out a deal with him and we got in.
"It’s just something we had to be involved in."
"It’s been great," he added of his team’s inaugural week in Triple Crown. "It really is so much fun. This is so well organized. I know the city does a great job just being involved."
Having been associated with the Park City High School baseball program for the last 15 years, Strader, now an assistant on head coach Lou Green’s staff, said coaching youngsters requires a different approach.
"I have to tone it down a little bit, but as far as coaching, they respond," he said. "That’s how I coach over there at the high school. It’s just fun to coach these kids."
The likes of Strader, Green and Dave Howard and many others are hoping to build baseball in Park City into a formidable sports system. The Park City Avalanche are sort of a farm system for the high school team. There are multiple teams in the Avalanche program, separated by age, and as they progress, they will prepare themselves to one day, perhaps, don Miners jerseys.
"That’s the vision," Strader said. "That’s what the Avalanche is. This is year one and we’re starting to see some success."