Bracket play in the 9u and 11u Super 25 National Championship got underway Saturday at Music City Park in Nashville, Tennessee. The top teams in the tournament began their quest for a title in a double-elimination format. Both age groups saw some great games throughout the day.
The 9u bracket was shaken up early in the day. The number one seed out of Pool A, the SC Bulldogs, was defeated by the Midland Blackhawks 7-4. The Banditos Black, the number one team out of Pool B, was beaten by the Midland Aces 5-4. With both number one seeds in the losers bracket, it was anybody’s tournament to win.
The game between the Banditos and the Aces was a great affair. Scoring three quick runs in the bottom of the first inning, the Banditos jumped out to an early lead. The Aces stormed back with two runs in the fourth and two in the fifth. Heading into the final frame, the game was tied 4-4. Midland scored a key run in the top of the seventh inning on a fielder’s choice and held on in the bottom of the inning to take the game.
The matchup of number one seeds took place in the first elimination game of the playoffs. This may have been the best game of the day. The two teams went back and forth all game, and the Banditos tied the game at four in the top of the fifth inning thanks to two runs in the frame. After six, the game was still tied, so the teams played extras. After neither team scored in the seventh and the Banditos were held scoreless in the top of the eighth, the Bulldogs were in business after their leadoff hitter, Zachary Hyde reached base on an infield single. After a steal and a pass ball, he stood on third base as the winning run. With no outs, Reggie Reed grounded a ball to the shortstop and Hyde beat the throw home to give the Bulldogs the victory.
The first semi-final was between two Midland teams, although one is from Midland, Texas and the other is from Cincinnati, Ohio. The game was a tremendous one, and both teams played well in an effort to make it to the finals. The Blackhawks jumped out to an early 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning. Then, the Aces scored one in the bottom of the fifth inning and one in the six as they headed to the final frame up 2-1. In the top of the seventh, Chase Herrell, of the Blackhawks, scored on a sacrifice fly hit by Nolan Krekeler to tie the score at two. But, in the bottom of the inning, Robert Shores doubled home Jacob Urias to give the Aces the 3-2 victory. With the win, the Aces will play in the championship game Sunday morning.
The second semi-final game was between the Midland Blackhawks and the SC Bulldogs. The Blackhawks scored two runs in the bottom of the second inning and one in the third to take a 3-0 lead. By the top of the fifth, the Blackhawks led 4-2. That’s when Brycen Sanders hit a two-out double that scored two to tie the game. The game went into extra innings still tied 4-4. After the Blackhawks held the Bulldogs scoreless in the top of the seventh, Ethan Bosley scored the game-winning run on a single by Chase Herrell. The win vaulted them into the finals Sunday against the Midland Aces.
The 11u playoffs started the day with some quality games. The Atlanta Angels picked up an 8-5 win against Molina Baseball, while the Arkansas Express beat the Dulin Dodgers 4-1. Both winners were the second seeded team in their pool, and both of the losing teams were the third seeded team in their pool.
Round two showcased both of the top seeds, the East Cobb Astros 11u of out Pool A and the Indiana Baseball Club out of Pool B. The Astros started a little bit shaky giving up three runs in the top of the first inning to the Atlanta Angels after only allowing four runs total in the four games prior in the tournament. But, they quickly responded with four runs of their own in the bottom of the first. After the Angels tied the game up with a run in the third, the game went into extra innings tied at four. After holding the Angels scoreless in the top of the seventh, the Astros got the leadoff hitter on thanks to a single by Brady McDevitt. The Angels came up with a good defensive play by getting McDevitt out at second on a bunt attempt by Caden Roberts. With Roberts now on first, Kristian Campbell knocked a double to put runners on second and third with only one out for the Astros. The next batter, Cooper Kinney, lined a base hit to score Roberts and give the Astros a hard-fought 5-4 victory.
In the other second round matchup, the Indiana Baseball Club was upended by the Arkansas Express 4-2 to advance the Express to the semi-finals against the Astros. Indiana fell to the loser’s bracket and had to face Molina Baseball in an elimination game.
Molina jumped on Indiana in the top of the first inning scoring six runs, but Indiana cut that lead in half by scoring three runs in the bottom of the inning. Heading into the bottom of the fourth inning, Molina still led Indiana 9-6. Then in that frame, Indiana exploded for eight runs to take a 14-9 lead. Molina picked up two more runs in the top of the fifth, but the effort was not enough as they fell to Indiana 14-11. Both teams were impressive at the plate, and they combined for 23 hits and six home runs.
The Dulin Dodgers matched up with the Atlanta Angels in the second elimination game of the day. For the Angels, it was their third game in a row. Even so, they showed a ton of heart. Heading into the top of the seventh inning, the game was close as the Dodgers led 1-0. Then, the Dodgers scored three insurance runs, ultimately putting the game out of reach. The Dodgers came out victorious 4-0 thanks to two home runs by the home run derby champion Blaze Jordan. Although eliminated, the Angels played with a ton of effort and passion that everybody in the park took notice of.
The first semi-final saw the undefeated East Cobb Astros 11u square off against the Arkansas Express. The Astros proved to be too much as they defeated the Express 10-2. Cullen Lee led the offense for the Astros going 2-3 with an RBI. Bradley Frye, Ivan Reap, and Gunner Stockton each hit a home run. The Astros moved into the finals Sunday, while the Arkansas Express will play in the second semi-final game Sunday morning.
Dulin and Indiana played each other in the final game of the day with a chance to meet the Express in the second semi-final game. Both teams scored two runs in the first inning, and they set the tone for what would be a great game. Dulin added two runs in the top of the third inning, while Indiana added one. Heading into the bottom of the seventh, Dulin led 4-3. In the frame, three straight singles for Indiana brought home a run and tied the score at four. A big double play put in by Dulin set up a two-out, second and third situation for Indiana. Then, Garrett Harker hit a single that brought home Tristen Melvin to win the game for Indiana 5-4. Sunday morning, they will meet the Express in the second semi-final for a chance to play in the championship game.