Rockies kick up dust
Team tames Twins to win major championship, 9-1
The Rockies came prepared to win Saturday’s Little League major championship. The parents blew up purple balloons and put together homemade streamer pom-poms. The players even packed cans of Silly String.
The only thing missing was the champagne on ice. Good thing. The players are no older than 13, and it wasn’t yet noon by the time the Rockies defeated the Twins, 9-1, to win the Steamboat Springs’ Little League championship in the major division Saturday at Emerald Fields.
Comprised mainly of South Routt youths, the Rockies played six innings of near-perfect baseball, churning out nine runs on eight hits. Meanwhile, their defense played steady, committing just two errors and those both were in the top half of the first inning.
Those miscues allowed Kaelen Gunderson to score the Twins’ only run of the game, as pitcher Nate Hill settled in, giving up just two hits in four innings while striking out five.
“This was the best game of the year by far,” catcher Ryan Tibbetts said.
In the other dugout, however, heads were hanging, and the frustration was visible. The Twins, who tied with the Rockies atop the regular-season standings, never got things going offensively and had one shaky inning on defense to let the Rockies pull away.
The game remained close through the first two innings, as both teams scored once in the first before the Rockies took what would be the lead for good in the bottom of the second when Tyler Kelliher scored on Hill’s RBI single.
One inning later, the Rockies pulled away, pushing seven runs across, taking advantage of four Twins errors and two clutch hits from Hill and Alex Estes.
The Rockies batted around in the third, starting with Tibbett’s leadoff double. He moved to third on an error, but Matt Atwood’s sacrifice bunt to try to bring his teammates home failed on a perfect play from Twins’ third baseman Tommy Kennedy.
One error and strikeout later, the Rockies had one runner on base with two outs, and it appeared as if Twins pitcher Shane Mosser was ready to get out of the inning, but another error and a cleat to the shin ended his day and helped trigger a five-run rally with two outs.
Gunderson came in to pitch for the Twins and gave up a walk and two doubles.
Kennedy came on in relief, and Estes hit a fly ball to the rightfield fence and didn’t stop running until he and two of his teammates had crossed home and returned to the dugout.
Kennedy got Tibbetts, the batter who started the inning, to ground out to short to end the inning, but the Twins never recovered.
Neither team scored after the third inning. Hill, Cody Miles and Estes combined to pitch three more innings of no-hit baseball, while Kennedy silenced the Rockies’ bats for the final two innings.
The Rockies’ major championship Saturday almost didn’t happen this season.
“We have trouble getting enough players for a team,” coach Steve Watwood said. To help the South Routt squad put together a roster, the Rockies used one player who is old enough to play in the senior division because he’s 13 but pulled up several children who should be playing in the minor leagues because they aren’t yet 11.
It didn’t matter what age anyone was Saturday. Everyone from the youngest player to the oldest parent celebrated a Rockies win and the end to the long Little League season and those frequent drives up Colorado Highway 131 for games.
The Little League season in Steamboat Springs wraps up later this week with the championship in the senior division.
The Cardinals defeated the Cubs, 13-8, on Friday to win the minor championship.
— To reach Melinda Mawdsley call 871-4208
or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
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