Summit Extreme makes history in Grand Junction tourney
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Summit County, Colorado
It’s not often that a band of Summit County little leaguers upstage Major League Baseball’s No. 1 draft pick. But that’s exactly what happened last weekend.
While scouts, analysts and columnists were fixated on eventual top pick Bryce Harper, as the 17-year-old phenom played in the Junior College World Series in Grand Junction, it was the Summit Extreme 13-U squad that truly earned the headlines.
Harper – he was ejected from his team’s semifinal game, albeit on a strange call.
The Summit boys? All they did was finish in third place in the youth Triple Crown Tournament, earning a spot in the Triple Crown World Series in Steamboat Springs in August.
And the Extreme certainly earned that invite.
Heading into the prestigious qualifying tournament, the Extreme was on a 10-game winning streak. Although, last weekend, they had only nine kids to bring to the tourney.
“With the level of competition we knew we would see on the Western Slope, and temperatures close to 100 degrees for the entire tournament, (we) were concerned,” Summit coach Bill Falcone said.
Once play started, though, those concerns vanished.
The Extreme faced off against the formidable Fruita Dirt Dogs, and Summit pitchers Jesse Pugh and Ben Hull put on a clinic from the mound, stifling the Dogs’ offensive attack.
With the score knotted at 5-5 in the bottom of the final inning, the Extreme’s Andy Falcone came to the plate with the bases loaded. Smart at the plate, Falcone stayed patient and drew a game-winning walk.
Jake Latta went 2-3 in the game with two doubles and two RBIs. Thomas DeBonnville also went 2-3 with a double and a triple.
Summit started slowly in its second game of pool play, falling behind a tough Grand Junction Mavericks squad 4-0 after two innings.
Then, a homer by DeBonnville in the fourth opened the flood gates for the Summit attack. The Extreme got singles from Camden Lawhead, Ryan Jeep, Luke Egging and Pugh, and just like that, the score was tied.
In the game’s final inning, Hull belted a two-run homer after an Egging single, and Summit held on for a 8-6 win.
“Despite the heat, the boys outlasted them in this one,” Falcone said. “And the bottom of the lineup came through for us with Luke Egging and Jesse Pugh both going 2-3.”
Finishing 2-0 in their pool, the Extreme earned the No. 2 seed for the playoff bracket.
In its first game, Summit won an epic showdown with Montrose.
In the bottom of the fifth, Summit jumped to a 5-3 lead after hits by Egging and Hull and two fielding errors on balls hit by Koby Bishop and DeBonnville.
Then, with two on and two out in the bottom of the seventh, DeBonnville came through again, doubling and driving in Pugh and Bishop to win the game 8-6.
The victory moved Summit into the tourney’s final four and pitted the Extreme against the Cobras of Grand Junction.
“This was the team we saw as the best team in the tourney coming in,” Falcone said. “The Cobras pitched very well against us, but as coaches we were a little too aggressive. The boys got caught on the bases, and made some atypical mistakes in the field.”
The Cobras jumped out to an early 6-0 lead, and despite a homer from Jeep, Summit’s win streak ended at 13 games with a 9-3 loss.
When the tourney eventually concluded (the Dirt Dogs of Fruita wound up nipping the Cobras in the final), Summit earned one more achievement: The Extreme had earned third place and a spot in the world series.
“It was an emotional moment to present the news to the boys and their parent,” Falcone said. “These families have committed so much to the club and the team. They have been working all out … and we’ve enjoyed every minute of it. In fact, it just keeps getting better.”
It also may be the first time any mountain team – at any age – has qualified for the tourney.
“This world series tournament has been held in Steamboat Springs for a number of years now, and no one from Steamboat nor the tournament organizers can remember a mountain team ever qualifying at any age level,” Falcone said.
And, sure, Harper may have earned himself a pretty big payday after Monday’s MLB draft, but the Summit squad got its own piece of history, too.
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