Strike Zone Bad Boys: Making on-field transitions

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Published Aug. 7, 2014

By Tony Adams

The Belton Strike Zone Bad Boys 8U played in the Waxahachie “Good Time For a Cool Down” Tournament last weekend. It was an 8U “Kid-Pitch” tournament; one in which several members of the Bad Boys made the adjustment from machine pitch, which Belton Youth Baseball Association plays, to player pitch.
Following a pool round in which the Bad Boys split games with Texas Crush (won 11-2) and Burleson Hitmen (lost 6-2), the team took on the Burleson Bears in tournament quarterfinals.
Sean Zacha got the start for Strike Zone and pitched a solid ball game. He scattered three hits over four innings in a one hour and 15-minute time limit game. He struck out six and walked no one over the four innings.
Jayden Hernandez helped the Bad Boys get on the scoreboard first. He walked, stole second and third and advanced home on a throwing error to put Strike Zone up 1-0.
Following great defense from Zacha, Matt Stanford and Caden Ward, the Bad Boys lit the scoreboard again in the second inning. Zacha struck out, but reached base on an error by the catcher. After a pair of Bad Boy strike outs, Stanford singled in Zacha and advanced to second on an error. Trey Dunn then walked and both he and Stanford scored on wild pitches during Clayton Gregory’s at-bat. The inning ended with the Bad Boys leading 4-0.
The Bears scratched out two runs on a pair of singles and three defensive errors by the Bad Boys to split the deficit in half to a 4-2 score.
Strike Zone answered in a big way in the bottom of the third inning. Hernandez and Ty Jackson were hit by pitches and scored on passed balls. Gregory and Mason Law each walked, stole two bases and scored during Cooper Mees’ at-bat to make the score 8-2. The team added a run in the fourth inning before time expired to claim the 9-2 victory.
The win advanced the team into the tournament semi-finals against the Oak Cliff Longhorns.
Ward walked with one out in the game’s opening inning. During Jackson’s at-bat, Ward was caught in a rundown between third base and home plate. After seven throws, Ward was able to beat the throw to put the Bad Boys up 1-0.
A series of misfortunes went against Strike Zone in the bottom of the first inning. Hernandez made a great backhanded play on a hot shot down the third base line, but the throw pulled Gregory off the bag at first. Jackson, who started the game on the mound retired the next hitter.  After a walk and a single, the next Longhorn hit a towering fly ball to right field that was misplayed and sailed to the wall for a two-run double. That was followed by a  walk, another error and a double which brought in five more runs. Jackson was lifted for Ward on the mound. The Bad Boys found themselves in an early 7-1 hole after the first inning.
Another crazy sequence in the second inning put the Bad Boys in a deeper hole in the second inning. With the bases loaded, Oak Cliff put runners in motion and worked two runs in on a throw over to first base. Another run scored on an errant throw to third base on a steal attempt. Oak Cliff led the Bad Boys 10-1 after two innings.
Mees was hit by a pitch and stole two bases to get a runner on third. He danced off of third base to work a throw out of the pitcher to third. It worked, but Mees was caught at home plate in rough play at the plate.
Oak Cliff continued to run with a nine-run lead. Two singles, two walks and six stolen bases led to four  more runs and a 14-1 advantage.
The Bad Boys made up three runs on a walk, a single and double. Two botched run downs contributed to the scoring and brought the score back to 14-4 before time expired.
The transition of many of the players is continuing, but the team really gelled together during the tournament.