After a month off of tournament baseball, the 9U Lightning team showed no rust by slugging themselves to a 24-4 victory over the Vegas Gamers. Scoring 11 runs in the top of 1st inning set a tone to the game and showed the excitement the players were ready to compete in tournament baseball again. All Lightning players reached base and found a way to score a run. Ridge O was plated 4 times and Marco C scored 3 times. Connor M, Bryson D, and Ryder W led the assault with 2 hits each.
Game 2 on Saturday was against the Utah Grays, UT. Connor M provided a solid start on the mound to allow the 9U Lightning to jump out to a 7-3 lead. The offense was led by Ridge O, Mason D, Jake G and Ty C by each collecting hits. As the game progressed on the opposing team started to challenge our defense and get runners on base. Huge contributions from Marco C to come in and get a bases loaded punch out to slam the door on a big threat from the Grays. Marco C finished with 1.1 innings pitched with 2 punch outs. Bryson D came into secure the lead and the Lightning finished with a 9-8 victory.
After a successful opening day of the tournament beginning 2-0 the 9U Lightning knew they would have a more competitive Sunday. First game of the day was against the 9U Team Adidas. Lightning jumped out early to a 3-0 lead, capitalizing on 4 BB's. Alex S started for the Lightning and had a quick first inning. Second inning ran into some trouble, with Jake G coming into relief and stopped the bleeding. After leading, the Adidas had captured the lead 7-3. Top of the 3rd was a bounce back inning for the Lightning as they tallied 7 runs on their own to retake the lead 10-7. In the top 4th, Lightning added 3 more and went onto win the game 13-9. Ryder W came up clutch with two big hits that had him lead the offense with 4 RBI's. Team Adidas held most of the offense in check, but the outstanding plate discipline and fantastic baserunning made the difference in the game. Between 11 BB's and scoring on 6 wild pitches that helped provide energy for the offense.
Game 4 was a game setup between Clutch Performance (UT) against the 9U Lightning. From the beginning the opposing pitcher was dominant. The only real offense created on the day was a missed sign - bunt home run and a dropped fly ball from the opposing team. Up against an arm that was in true command from the beginning. With how challenged our offense was to find hard contact, the 9U Lighting didn't miss the other teams’ barrels. Outhit 11-1, the Clutch Performance rolled to a 11-3 victory. Marco C baffled the opposing hitters for 2.1 innings with no earned runs and 3 strike outs.
Finishing pool play 3-1 the 9U Lightning found themselves in the Silver Bracket. Allowing too many runs prevented the team from competing in highest division on President's Day Monday. Semifinal game was against local competitors the Henderson Hustlers. The Hustlers were a scrappy, competitive team from our previous Fall League that always played the 9U Lighting tough. In the top of the first, after a leadoff strikeout, 12 of the next 13 batters found a way on base. Walks, hits, errors and a tight zone all worked against the 9U Lighting as the Blasters scored 11. Players knew they would get their opportunity and there was plenty of game left to perform. Bottom of the 1st, Lightning were able to get the bases loaded but could only score 1. Top of the second, Blasters added on 2 more runs. Trailing 13-1 the Lightning did something incredible at any age, THEY SCORED 12 RUNS IN THE INNING, to tie the game at 13 apiece. In the second the Lighting had 13 straight batters reach base. Every player on the team scored a run. Jake G and Mason D led the offense with 2 hits each. Ty C had a big hit driving in 2 runs. Alex S came into pitch after the disastrous 1st. He went onto pitch 3 innings with 3 strikeouts. The only runs he allowed were in the 2nd inning. He prevented the other team from scoring in the 3rd and the 4th inning. That setup a walk off win for the Lightning by Bryson D. scoring on a wild pitch. What a series of emotions for the players, parents and everyone involved. From allowing 11 in the first and retaliating with 12 in the second, going to extra innings and winning with a walk off was a fun game to experience. After the ups and downs of the semifinal it was time to reset the emotions and recharge for the Silver Championship against Clutch Performance with revenge on the minds of the 9U Lightning. Clutch jumped out early to a 3 run lead. In bottom 2nd, Rocco G hit a double and drove in Alex S for the first run for the Lighting. Then strong pitching started to surface as Jake G and the Clutch pitcher started to focus in. Both pitchers challenged hitters and found ways to produce weak contact. By far the best pitching duel of the tournament, the Lighting experienced, as it was 4-2 after 4 solid innings of play. A few hits for Clutch and Connor M came into relief. Connor M minimized the damage and the score was 6-2 entering the bottom 5th. Bryson D walked to start off the inning, Rocco G singled, and Jake G walked. With 1 out and trailing by 4, Marco C came up with the biggest hit of the weekend, a bases clearing triple to left center scoring 3 runs. Championship game down 6-5 into the last inning, the 9U Lightning were in great position. A walk, hit batter, then boom, a big double for the other team which gave back their lead. After a long, battled game Clutch Performance won 9-5. Vincent S had 5 put outs in the championship with some challenging outs recorded through fly balls.
Lighting team battled hard all weekend and will have great memories from the tournament. Unfortunately, didn't finish it out in the end, but scoring 12 runs in an inning and never giving up when down by 11 is a team worth fighting for. The 9u Lighting look forward to their next tournament competitions in March with a local tournament early in the month and traveling to Phoenix during Spring Training.