By Justin and Angi Johnson
Special to the Journal
The Belton CRU 12U baseball team participated in the Omaha Champions Village national tournament in Nebraska June 27-July 1.
The tournament was open to AAA and majors class teams from across the country. The tournament started on Monday with an opening ceremony and skills competition.
On Tuesday morning, the CRU began pool play with a win against the Georgia Storm. That evening, the CRU attended the College World Series Game 2 between Coastal Carolina and Arizona.
The CRU played a total of five pool games between Tuesday to Thursday seeding seventh out of a field of nine with a record of 2-3.
Single elimination bracket play began Friday with the CRU playing the No. 2 Ft. Worth Frogs, (who had defeated the CRU 11-6 the day before) in their first round game.
It was the bottom of the first inning with the CRU leading by one run when a hard grounder hit the throwing hand of the third baseman. He stayed in the game but would later learn it was broken. The next batter, the Frogs clean up hitter, hit a hard line drive right up the middle striking our pitcher on the right side of his head. He was immediately taken to a local hospital for observation and testing which revealed damage to his optical nerve and lost sight in his right eye.
Now, with one injured player and another at the hospital the boys were determined to win for their injured teammates. The CRU went on to beat the majors class Frogs 6-2, advancing to the semi finals.
It had already been a long week of baseball and the boys were giving it all they had. Players were in positions seldom played, but each performed with heart and determination.
In the semifinal game against the No. 3 seed Florida Gatorball, The CRU were trailing by seven runs (9-2) going into the top of the fifth. At this point, another player had been injured forcing our player with the broken hand to take right field. The CRU then proceeded to score nine runs in the top of fifth and held Gatorball in the bottom of the inning to win 11-9 and advance to the championship game.
In the finals against the No. 4 seed Topeka (KS) Stix, the CRU were more determined than ever to pull out the victory for their injured friend in the hospital.
They broke each huddle calling out his name or number, remembering him and dedicating their effort to him. They pulled together as a group, fought hard and won it all 6-0.
The boys played not only with their God given talents, but more importantly with their heart. They were motivated not just by competition but also by love for each other. They won for their buddies, for their teammates who wanted to be there and play but were unable.