Skullcandy 12U squad finishes second
The Triple Crown World Series baseball tournaments in Park City last week showcased some of the best 10U and 12U squads from the western United States.
Utah teams had especially strong showings in the 12U tourney, with the Utah Marshalls winning the top division and two Utah teams — the Skullcandy Crushers and the Big 3 Baseball Impact — battling for the Division 2 crown.
The 12U Crushers, made up of players from across the state, as well as a couple Park City players, battled their way through 10 games in the five days of the tournament, winning six and losing four. The most exciting game, according to Coach Gregg Ratkovic, came on Friday afternoon, when the Crushers overcame a late deficit to pick up a big 11-4 win against the Warriors Elite Rage in extra innings.
"It was one of the most exciting games I’ve ever been a part of as a player or a coach," he said. "It was incredible. Everything that could have gone wrong in the first five innings offensively did go wrong. To see the boys come back in the top of the sixth and score four runs and then get into extra innings and put up seven more runs was phenomenal."
Unfortunately for the Skullcandy squad, the momentum from that big win was stifled on Saturday morning.
"We faced a really good team from up in Layton," Coach Robin Jennings said. "We came back [from a 1-0 deficit] and went up by two. Then, they got the bases loaded and one of their kids connected and hit a grand slam to win it."
However, after the tough loss, Ratkovic said something changed among the players.
"They didn’t hold their heads down," he said. "They all got together and talked and, when they came back to the dugout, they were a brand-new team. I had no doubt they were going to make it back to play Big 3 again."
The Big 3 Baseball Impact saw a lot of the Crushers on Saturday. After the loss Saturday morning, Skullcandy handily beat Elevation 10-2 to get to the Division 2 championship series, where Big 3 Baseball Impact was waiting.
Needing to defeat Impact twice, Skullcandy picked up a big 8-2 victory in game one to force a do-or-die second game with the title on the line. However, Jennings said, the Crushers didn’t have the legs to finish the tournament with a win.
"It was our fourth game of the day and our kids ran out of gas," he said. "Everybody was running out of gas. That’s a lot of games. The other guys played very well and they were as gracious in victory as I believe we were in defeat. We got unified team photos together and, in the Skullcandy tradition, gave everybody headphones. It was a great experience for all involved. I couldn’t be prouder of the kids. They battled all week. For them to come together in such a short period of time, it was great."
After strong showings from the Utah Marshalls, the Big 3 Baseball Impact and the Skullcandy Crushers at the 12U level, Brent Milner, the director of operations for Skullcandy baseball, said Utah teams are figuring out what it takes to compete with California squads and other baseball-rich states on a national level.
"I think what we’ve figured out is we’re a relatively rural state," he said. "We’re spread out, but we have talent. If you think of each of those three teams, they’re all amalgamations. The fact that we were able to get out in this three-million person state and create three teams that competed says a lot about the athletes we have and the talent we have."
This week, the Skullcandy 11U and 13U teams will play in Triple Crown World Series tournaments in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. Milner said he expects good things from both squads.
"I think they’re both extremely strong teams," he said. "I expect both teams to be as competitive as these [10U and 12U] teams. I think the boys are ready."
Pool play in the 11U and 13U tournaments begins Wednesday. The championship games are scheduled for Sunday afternoon. For more information on the Triple Crown World Series tournaments, visit http://www.triplecrownsports.com .
Steele DeWald has his life in Park City down to a routine. After some strange encounters in his 20s, he’s OK with the mundane.