13U Crushers claim second at Heber tournament | ParkRecord.com

13U Crushers claim second at Heber tournament

Skullcandy team to compete at World Series Aug. 1-6

By Griffin Adams
The Park Record

Members of the Skullcandy Crushers 13U youth baseball team pose for a photo after earning second place at the Heber Valley Pioneer Tournament last week. The team went undefeated in pool play before falling 10-1 in the championship.

The Skullcandy Crushers 13U team cruised through a long day of baseball at the Heber Valley Pioneer Tournament last weekend.

The team made its way through pool play unscathed (4-0) — though it had some close calls — to reach the tournament's championship game on Saturday.

But after playing 14 hours of baseball that day, the Crushers couldn't put things together in the title contest, falling 10-1, to claim second place at the local tournament.

"The boys played fantastic [in the tournament]," said Brent Milner, one of Skullcandy's coaches. "Probably [some of] my favorite games that we've played in the history of the Crushers. … We just fell apart at all the wrong times."

Despite not being able to nab the trophy, it was a productive and fun weekend for the Crushers, Milner said.

One of the more exciting games came in the final contest of pool play against the Spanish Fork Stars. The team was 3-0 in the tournament to this point. No other team in Skullcandy's pool was undefeated, so the fourth and final game of play didn't impact the Crushers' chances of qualifying for the championship.

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The Crushers decided to toy around with the lineup in the contest, placing teammates in positions that they weren't used to playing.

"The boys relaxed a little bit too much," Milner said.

The team found itself down 7-3 late in the game. The Crushers were running out of time.

In the bottom of the sixth inning, Skullcandy went on to score four runs to tie things up in the final frame. With Asher Levine up to bat for the Crushers and a man in scoring position, Levine laid down a near-perfect bunt, ultimately scoring the run from third. The 8-7 win sent the Crushers to the championship game unblemished.

"We scored on a squeeze play to win the game," Milner said. "Just such absolute emotion."

Though they fell in the championship contest, the Crushers felt confident after the tournament. In fact, assistant coach Paul Thompson was impressed with what he saw from the team — specifically the camaraderie.

"I'm proud of how each player loves the game of baseball to their core and loves this Crush Nation band of brothers," Thompson said. "Each one would want all the others in a foxhole. It is a very committed and special group of young men."

It's a good thing, too, as the team will need camaraderie when it competes in the Triple Crown Sports 13U World Series in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, from Aug. 1-6. The group will travel together, live together and play together for roughly a week, aiming for the top spot in a national tournament.

Milner believes that even though the Crushers lost in Heber, they are in the right spot to show what they can do. While winning a tournament title would've been nice, the coach said his players had a reality check, of sorts, in Heber, which helped them realize that there's still work left to be done.

That said, the confidence in the group is rising.

"The boys are really gelling, really figuring out who can do what," Milner said. "Everybody is hitting at timely events. The pitching has been outstanding. I'm feeling pretty good about our prospects as we go into the World Series in two weeks.

A benefit of playing in the World Series event is the fact that the Crushers will get to face pitchers and players they've never gone up against.

"It allows these kids to get out of their market and go play against teams that come from 12 different states," Milner said. "There's a lot of high quality baseball going on. It challenges them to see different pitchers. The issue with playing competitive baseball in Utah is you grow up together."

The Skullcandy Crushers will play in their first game of the Triple Crown Sports 13U World Series on Aug. 2. Bracket play is scheduled to begin Thursday, with championship games taking place on Saturday.