The winner’s bracket finals of the 2019 Texas Teenage Baseball Association (TTAB) 12U Open Base District 10 pitted a couple of teams that are very familiar with each other, as the Belton Braves took on the Belton Astros last Tuesday (July 9).
The core of both teams battled two years ago in Copperas Cove in TTAB’s 10U Open Base State Championship.
The Belton Dodgers, the majority of the players now being the Braves, and Belton Padres, the majority of the players now representing the Astros, played an epic two-game championship. The Padres had double-dipped the Dodgers to win the state championship.
The managers of both teams: Shaun Drake (Dodgers and Braves) and Tommy Bruce (Padres and Astros).
On this night, the Braves got out to an early lead and rode the relief pitching of Easton Drake to a 7-4 win over the Astros.
The win qualified the Braves for the District 10 Championship game, played Wednesday night. The loss relegated the Astros to the loser’s bracket final against the Belton Royals.
The Braves jumped out to an early three-run lead on Astros’ starting pitcher Kavan Pilkington in the top of the first inning. Sean McCallum walked, stole second base, and Morgan Locklin singled McCallum to third. With one out, Cooper Mees’ single scored McCallum and Tate Lisenbe’s two-run single put the Braves up 3-0.
The Astros responded with a pair of runs in the bottom of the frame, both with two outs. Andrew Mendez singled and Mason McIntosh doubled, which moved Mendez to third base. Pilkington singled in home Mendez and McIntosh scored on a passed ball. Ace Archer walked and Alex Aguilar was hit by a pitch to force the Braves to switch pitchers to Drake. He struck out the next batter to retire the side.
Unfazed by the Astros rally, the Braves captured the two runs back. Habtamu Childers singled and took third on an overthrow. He scored on a wild pitch. Moments later, McCallum walked, stole second and third base, and scored on Drake’s single to put the Braves back up by three runs, 5-2.
Drake struck out seven of the next nine Astros hitters and made a put out of his own over the next three innings.
The Braves were able to post another run in the top of the fourth inning. With one out, McCallum walked, stole second, moved to third on a wild pitch, and scored on a ground out by Locklin to give the Braves a 6-2 lead.
The Astros countered with an unearned run. Collin Sallee’s RBI ground out pulled the Astros back to within three runs, 6-3.
Continuing the game of back-and-forth, the Braves answered with another run in the top of the sixth. Waylon Wallace reached on an error, stole second base, and then third base. Habtamu Childers walked and moved to second on defensive indifference. Wallace and Childers then pulled off a double-steal of home plate and third base to put the Braves back in front by four runs.
The Astros last gasp came in the bottom of the sixth. Pilkington reached second on a Braves error to start the inning. Jamie Chipman’s single brought home Pilkington to force the Braves to go to Mees to close out the game with a strikeout.
McCallum continued to be the most difficult out in the Braves’ lineup. After a big Monday night, he drew four walks, stole four bases, and scored three times. The Braves had seven hits with Lisenbe collecting two hits to pace the team, who left four runners on base.
The Astros collected five hits and stranded seven runners, including the bases loaded in the first inning.
Braving the adversity: Braves rally from six-run deficit to run-rule Royals for District 10 Champions
The Texas Teenage Baseball Association (TTAB) 12U Open Base District Tournament at the Jace Jefferson Baseball Complex at Heritage Park concluded last Wednesday night (July 10) with a battle in the championship final between the undefeated Belton Braves and the one-loss Belton Royals.
The Braves dealt the Astros a 6-4 loss on Tuesday night to drop them into the loser’s bracket finals against the Belton Royals on Wednesday evening and eliminated them to move back to the championship final. The Royals were forced into a situation in which they had to beat the Braves twice to get to the state tournament. The Braves needed to defeat the Royals once.
Early on, the Royals appeared to have matters in hand. They overcame a one-run deficit with a seven-run second inning and had an 8-2 advantage heading into the bottom of the third inning.
The Braves countered with two runs in the bottom of the third and five runs in the bottom of the fourth to take a 10-9 lead.
Showing their resolve, the Royals tied the score with a run in the top of the fifth,
However, the Braves ripped the game open in the bottom of the fifth with a 10-run inning to run-rule the Royals, 20-10, and clinch not only the District 10 championship, but a spot in the TTAB 12U Open Base Tournament in Whitehouse starting on Monday (July 15).
Cole Mikulas singled with one out in the top of the first to set up the Royals’ initial run. An overthrow and a balk plated Mikulas to put the Royals up, 1-0.
Sean McCallum and Morgan Locklin back-to-back singles and double-steal set up shop for Easton Drake. The Braves’ starting hurler singled home McCallum and Locklin to give the Braves the lead, 2-1.
The Royals put together a seven-spot in the top of the third inning. Braxtan Cope led off with a single and stole second base. Gage Flores singled home courtesy runner Jose Rangel. After Josiah Martinez singled, Tywon Walker reached on fielder’s choice that forced out Flores at third base. Sammy Matous walked to load the bases, which set up Tristan Walker’s two-run single. Mikula’s fielder’s choice brought home a run. Sebastian Santiago and Cope each had RBI hits to make the score 8-2.
The Braves scored two runs in the bottom of the third inning. Drake scored on a wild pitch, Cooper Mees doubled home Drake, and Noah Childers doubled in Mees to cut the Royals advantage to four runs, 8-4.
The Royals gained the run back in the fourth inning. Tristan Walker reached on an infield hit, stole second and third base, and scored on a wild pitch to make the score 9-4.
The Braves attacked the six-run margin. With one out in the bottom of the forth, Habtamu Childers was hit by a pitch, Dez Ravizee reached on an error, and McCallum reached on a bunt single to load the bases. Locklin drilled a 1-0 pitch down the right field line for a two-run double. Drake’s field single scored McCallum. With two outs, Tate Lisenbe deposited a 1-1 pitch over the centerfield fence for a three-run homer to give the Braves a 10-9 lead.
The Royals got the equalizer in the top of the fifth. Cope’s double to left-centerfield led to an RBI groundout by Martinez to tie the score at 10-10.
It was a second hit-by-pitch of the game to Habtamu Childers on the first pitch of the bottom of the fifth inning that led to the floodgates opening. Ravizee walked to set up McCallum’s two-run double. Locklin’s RBI double scored McCallum. Drake and Mees walked to load the bases. Lisenbe’s ground out to third and Noah Childers’ walk. Waylon Wallace’s RBI single and Habtamu Childers’ two-run single set up McCallum’s RBI single. He stole two bases and scored on wild pitch to end the game in run-rule fashion.
McCallum scored had four hits, four runs scored, and three runs batted it. Lisenbe had four runs batted in and Locklin added three hits and three RBI. The Braves left four runners on base.
Cope, Mikulas, and Tristan Walker all scored two runs each, as the Royals left one runner on base.
The Braves are the lone seed from District 10 to qualify for the state tournament.