Skullcandy Crushers win big in Salem
After a strong summer season that saw them make some noise in the Triple Crown World Series in Park City, the Skullcandy Crushers under-11 and U13 squads ended their fall seasons with tournament victories in the Utah Perfect Game Fall Classic Tournament last weekend.
The tournament was a wooden-bat-only affair, something the Crushers hadn’t had extensive experience with beforehand. It was also the only tournament the Crushers played during the fall season.
"The most interesting aspect of that format is the boys have to hit the ball perfectly to make it travel," 11U coach Brent Milner said. "So defense becomes imperative and good, timely hitting becomes imperative."
The Crushers got both in a 7-6 win against the Utah Yard Dawgs.
"It started out as an absolute pitching duel," Milner said. "We went down early a couple runs, but the boys were unfazed. They were up on the rail, cheering their team and getting excited about every play.
"Then we had a timely double down the line and it absolutely changed the momentum of the game. After that, we had the will to win and made all the defensive plays."
The biggest defensive play came in the game’s final inning.
"They had men on second and third in the bottom of the seventh and we turned a double play," Milner said. "It was looking grim for us, up by one run with no outs and they had runners on second and third. But the double play left a runner on third and we struck the next batter out."
The 13U squad battled the Yard Dawgs in another nail-biting championship game. In the 2-1 victory, coach Gregg Ratkovic said the Skullcandy boys played their best game since coming together as a team.
"We promptly went out and scored a run in the first inning," he said. "We scored our second run in the third inning. Then we played some of the best defense and had some of the best pitching I’ve ever seen. We were able to hold our lead."
Ratkovic wasn’t just impressed with his squad during the game, though. He credited both teams for playing a fantastic game.
"It was probably the most well-played youth game I’ve ever seen," he said. "There were just no mistakes on either side."
But, despite the tournament championship, Ratkovic’s favorite moment of the weekend didn’t come during a game at all.
"Between games, it was probably one of the proudest moments in our organization’s history," he said. "The boys were out there, 14-16 of them, doing nothing but throwing ground balls to each other, goofing around, having a good time and getting ready for one of the biggest games they’ve played in their young careers."
That sort of love for the game players tossing the ball around without being instructed to by the coaching staff is something Ratkovic has wanted to see since the start of the Crushers organization.
"It wasn’t anything I was going to stop," he laughed.
Now, the Crushers will take a little break before their offseason training program begins, Milner said.
"We’ve got a six-week break to let the boys’ arms settle and repair," he said. "Then we’ve developed a winter program run out of The Turf for keeping their skills current. We won’t be throwing, but we’ll be doing just enough to remind the arms and the legs and the eyes what we’re doing in baseball and still let them play their winter sports.
"That program will last 10-12 weeks and then we’ll kick into a full-on spring program where we try to play a tournament a month per team."
To try out for the Skullcandy Crushers, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stifel U.S. Freeski Team athlete and Olympic champion Alex Hall secured the win in big air at Beijing, the same location where he clinched his Olympic victory in slopestyle at the 2022 Beijing Olympic Winter Games.
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