EMERSON, Ga. – The Dallas Tigers–Woods didn’t exactly make things easy on themselves in a matchup with the East Cobb Pride Thursday morning at Perfect Game Park South at LakePoint in the 15u Perfect Game-East Cobb Invitational. With the pool champion on the line as both teams headed into the game 2-0, it was just about everything you could’ve asked for in a battle between top teams.
This game did not lack in excitement. With the East Cobb Pride leading 3-2 going into the sixth inning, the Tigers had to score a run to keep their playoff hopes alive. The clock was working against them and the sixth frame would be the last in the ballgame.
Catcher Christian Ross Cadena was the offensive catalyst for the Tigers in the tremendous sixth inning rally, leading off with a single to right field. He would work his way around to third base before the Pride walked three straight batters via to tie the game at 3-3 with just one out and the bases juiced.
A deep sacrifice fly to right field by Brady Disher scored the game-leading run. Despite early morning mental mistakes early in the game, the Tigers had worked their way back into the ballgame and all the energy was suddenly in the Tigers dugout.
The big four-run top of the sixth would be capped off by a two-run single to centerfield by Jacob Martinez, giving the Tigers, who started the inning down 3-2, a 6-3 lead with three outs to play.
“We gave them some extra outs and they clutched up and got some hits early, but we did stay in the game, fought back, and later on we got some runners on and guys stepped up with some clutch hitting,” said Dallas Tigers head coach Kyle Woods. “Our pitchers kept us in the game the whole game. They threw enough strikes to give us a chance to win, so I tip my hat to our pitchers.”
Southpaw Russell Smith came in for the last three outs and sent the Dallas Tigers-Woods into the playoffs with a perfect 3-0 record in pool play.
Smith and right-handed pitcher Ryan Vilade both topped out at 84 mph (miles per hour) on the bump, while Martinez was clocked at 83 mph.
“Our pitching staff was really good,” Woods said. “Behind the plate we have two kids that can get the job done and, offensively, up an down the lineup we’re all very solid.”
The team from Flower Mound, Texas has outscored its opponents 30-7 through three games, including 11-3 and 13-1 victories to open pool play. As a team, they are 33-for-73 (.452 batting average) and have four guys in the lineup hitting at least .500 with a minimum ten plate appearances. The pitching has been worthy of Woods’ praise, with a team earned-run average of 1.31 through 16 innings.
A program that’s been around now for 21 years, the Dallas Tigers have built a reputation for being one of the consistently stronger programs in travel baseball. According to the program’s website, they have won 15 national championships since its founding year. Twenty-two Tigers have been selected to play for U.S. National teams and 26 have been drafted to the Major Leagues. Their latest notable alum, Michael Kopech, was drafted by the Boston Red Sox in the first round of the recent MLB First-Year Player Draft.
“It’s a club that’s been around,” said Woods. “We’re really big on developing the kids and preparing them for the next level. We always, every year, have several kids that go play Division I baseball We don’t have one hundred teams like some clubs do, we just try to base it off good teams that way we get guys to come out and watch our teams play.”
Parents and kids are well aware of the exposure the players will get if they play on a Dallas Tigers team. That goes a long way in attracting some of the premier talent in the organization’s area of Texas.
“We’ve had good coaches in the program and we base our program a lot on class and playing the game right, so a lot of people like that and understand that,” Woods said. “We have a good group of kids on and off the field and we’re big on that. It’s not just about baseball. It’s grades, obviously, and being mature young men.
This particular group of mature 15-year-old ballplayers is a special group for Coach Woods. The dynamic of this team makes being around each other an enjoyable experience for the coaches and players.
“These guys all love each other. All of them are buddies,” said Woods. “There’s not one guy on the field who wouldn’t give the other guy his jersey. They fight for each other and they have a lot of fun doing it.”
The Dallas Tiger-Woods will carry that strong team chemistry and program tradition into the first round of the playoffs Thursday afternoon. Showing they can win big or come from behind, don’t sleep on the Tigers in the 15u Perfect Game-East Cobb Invitational.