Locals play in Triple Crown | SteamboatToday.com

Locals play in Triple Crown

Colorado teams kick off games at Howelsen fields

— Routt County residents who think Triple Crown Sports’ championship events are tourist-exclusive affairs should know that two youth baseball teams representing Northwest Colorado are competing in this week’s tournament games.

Playing in the 14-and-under division, the Northwest Colorado Storm kicked off its home-field campaign Wednesday morning against the Arlington, Texas, Heat at the Howelsen Hill fields.

Made up of five players from the 14-and-under team that won the Junior League District 3 Championship last month in Eagle, the Storm added five local players from Routt and Moffat Counties to round out a talented squad.

Switching to the shortened distance of 54 feet between the pitching mound and home base took some adjusting for starting Storm pitcher Ryan Tibbetts, who said he was used to pitching the 60-foot distance of American Legion baseball.

After a tough first inning, in which Tibbetts gave up five runs, the Storm answered with a two-run homer from first baseman Matt Watwood.

“They made every play,” Heat coach Chris Gay said. “We’ve been here seven straight years. They’re one of the better local teams we’ve played in a while. They maybe had one error, and that was a hard-hit ball.”

With Oak Creek’s Cody Miles on the mound and Craig’s Nathan Hill making plays at second base, the Storm held the Heat to only three additional runs for the rest of the game. But the Storm’s offense couldn’t overcome the deficit. The final score was 8-2.

“If we would’ve selected our hitting better, picking better pitches, they were putting it out there for us right down the pipe,” Tibbetts said about what his team was lacking. “Our fielding was not bad,” he said. “I think we can compete. We have the knowledge and skills to do it.”

The Storm plays its final two pool play games today in Craig to determine seeding in either the 16-team championship bracket or the 10-team consolation bracket. Play in both brackets begins Friday and concludes Sunday.

The Northwest Colorado Lynx, a team composed primarily of Moffat County players, is competing in the 13-and-under Division 2 tournament and plays its third tournament game at 9:45 a.m. today at Howelsen’s Vanatta field.

To reach Dave Shively, call 846-1129 or e-mail dshively@steamboatpilot.com.

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