Extreme U-13 squad wraps up third-place finish at state tourney
summit daily news
Summit County, Colorado
A few months back, the Summit Extreme U-13 baseball team began its season with little expectation. And after seven straight losses to start the season, the expectations were even lower.
How things have changed.
Since the meager start to the summer, the Extreme have gone on to win 24 games and take the No. 1 AA ranking in the state.
And on Sunday, the team was just one play away from playing for the USSSA state title.
The Extreme trailed the Colorado Cougars – a team they’d narrowly beaten twice this summer in tournament play – 9-8 with one out in the final inning. With two runners on, one of Summit’s best hitters, Jake Latta, stepped up to the plate.
“I would have taken that situation any day,” head coach Bill Falcone said.
Latta ripped a shot up the middle of the infield, but a remarkable stop by a Cougar and the ensuing double play ended the game and the Extreme’s championship hopes.
“They played their hearts out, and we were all heartbroken by the defeat,” Falcone said. ” … However, as far as I’m concerned, these boys from the mountains are all champions in their own right by what they have accomplished … this year.”
The Extreme wound up with the third-place trophy at the hotly contested state tourney, finishing the weekend in Denver with a 5-1 record and with the highest run differential of any team.
The championships started July 9 with pool play. Of 40 qualifying teams, only 20 advanced to the playoff round on Sunday, and of those 20, only 12 received a first-round bye.
So, a team looking to conserve energy for the playoff round needed to win – and win quickly.
For Summit, this wasn’t a problem.
The Extreme dominated the Alameda Conquerors 15-0 in their first game, with Jesse Pugh and Andy Falcone combining for the shutout. Latta was 3-3 with three RBIs, and Thomas DeBonnville was 3-4 with five RBIs.
Then, Summit demolished a talented team from Windsor 14-2 Saturday morning. DeBonnville was 4-4, Koby Bishop was 2-3, and Canden Lawhead and Ben Hull were both 1-2.
The Extreme then beat the Castle Rock Rattlers 7-4 with Bishop leading the way by going 2-2. Andy Falcone was also 2-2 in the game with an RBI and a walk.
With a 3-0 record in pool play, the Extreme easily advance – with a bye – and a high seed for the playoff round. Unfortunately, the luck of the draw gave them a hard road to the title.
“We had to take on a ‘bring-them-all-on’ mentality and tried to focus on bringing our best game to the park for each game on Sunday,” coach Falcone said.
And that’s what Summit did.
The Extreme beat the Cheyenne Mountain Mustangs 8-4 in the first round, behind an impressive pitching performance from Pugh and some timely hits from DeBonnville, Falcone and Luke Egging.
In the quarterfinals, the Eaton Reds gave the Extreme a tough test. The Reds scored five runs in the first inning and jumped out to a commanding lead.
But the Extreme fought back.
“It was gut-check time,” Falcone said.
Summit had nine straight batters reach base – off six hits and three walks – and charged back for a 6-5 lead.
Then, Latta ripped a rocket shot to the outfield for a double, and Ryan Jeep hit a three-run homer to open the floodgates for the Extreme.
Lawhead went 3-4 with two doubles and two RBIs, Pugh was 3-3, and Spencer Peterson made a circus catch in center field in the final inning, as the Extreme advanced to the semifinals with a 16-7 win.
That’s when the Extreme ran into the Cougars and another early deficit.
After falling behind by four runs in the first inning, the Extreme hit their way back into the game, led once again, by Latta.
Latta hit a bases-clearing triple in the second inning to give Summit the lead at 6-4. Latta then hit a double in the fourth to drive in another two runs and give the Extreme an 8-6 lead, while Hull kept Summit in the lead from the mound.
Slowly, though, the Cougars clawed back into the lead, and Summit couldn’t answer again.
Latta went 3-4 in the loss with four RBIs, while Bishop was 2-4.
“We beat all the best teams, and we beat the tournament winner two out of three (this year),” Falcone said. “Unfortunately, they won the one that really counted and sent us packing.”
Summit hit .435 as a team in the tourney and only registered 12 strike outs in 154 at bats. There were four complete games in which the Extreme had only one strike out.
The season doesn’t end here, though, as the Extreme will play in the Triple Crown World Series – a highly competitive, invitation-only tourney – in three weeks.
For now, Falcone couldn’t be happier with what his team’s done so far.
“We started out the season with no expectations and seven straight losses,” the coach said. ” … Since then, we have gone 24-7 overall in tournament play, earning two championships, a second-place finish and now a third at states in USSSA. These young men will always remember the successes they have enjoyed while being a part of this team. They have all contributed greatly to that success.”
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