"The boys are playing great," said Brent Milner, head coach of the 10u Park City Skullcandy Crushers. "The way that the tournament works is that pool plays determines seeding (in tournament play) and pitching is very important. So our strategy had been to save our biggest arms for once we got into tournament play and try to get by on pool play."
Milner's team finished with a 1-2 record in pool play, losing 4-3 to the Utah Horns and 11-8 to the LV Hurricanes, then coming back to crush Big 3 Baseball 18-7. That earned the Park City team the 14th seed among 26 10u teams in the tournament.
In the first round of tournament play on Thursday, Park City squeaked by the Hit Club Bandits. The team's second tournament game was scheduled for noon on Friday.
Meanwhile, the Skullcandy Crushers' 12u team, coached by Gregg Ratkovic, was eliminated Friday morning after going 1-2 in tournament play.
Ratkovic's team went 0-3 in pool play, losing 11-4 to the Fort Collins Tigers, 14-5 to the Vegas Xpress and 13-6 to MIT White. Milner, who also serves as the assistant coach on the 12u team, pointed out that the Crushers had the misfortune, in those three preliminary games, to face three of the top 12 teams in the 40-team tournament.
On Thursday, the 12u Park City team dropped its first tournament game 5-4 to the Utah Bandits but came back to win its second game 9-5 over the KTB Black Knights. However, on Friday the Crushers were knocked out 14-4 by the Utah Aces.
"The (12u) boys have played with a lot of heart," Milner said Thursday. "They have been hitting the ball well, running well, and really, by and large I've been really happy with the defense. Just a couple of mental breakdowns here and there, and that's really been the difference."
Regardless of the outcome of the tournament, both Park City teams will come away with trophies, thanks to their performance in the Around the Horn competition. Milner said that both teams finished second in their divisions in the timed throwing and catching competition that requires each player to receive, transfer and throw the ball to another teammate by position and in a predetermined order.
"With this level of competition, to finish second out of 26 teams and second out of 40 teams is really extraordinary," Milner said.
Milner is optimistic about the future of the Skullcandy Crushers' organization, which is headquartered in The Turf, an indoor baseball facility near Jupiter Bowl at Kimball Junction. He said the program started with one team in the spring, now has two teams, and will probably have four in the fall.
"This is a brand-new program in Park City. That facility behind Jupiter Bowl is brand new. And we're just trying to raise the bar on the creation of talent in baseball in a sports town like Park City. And I think we're off to a great start, just being competitive at this level, in our first tournament, effectively, as an organization."
Milner owns The Turf, a purpose-built baseball training facility with state-of-the-art equipment and coaches with professional experience.