|Written by George Werner|
|Wednesday, 12 March 2014 11:09|
Cottonwood-based 13-and-under baseball club Mean Machine scored 70 runs in six games for manager Creighton Kim to go undefeated and win its first tournament championship of the year Feb. 17 in Fountain Valley, Calif.
Chaz Taylor, Brad Howard and Justin Tanner each had three hits and combined for 5 runs scored and 5 runs batted in to defeat the Surprise Stampede 14-6 for the championship of the United States Specialty Sports Association Presidents Day National Invitation Tournament.
“The Mean Machine’s offense was opportunistic, taking advantage of walks and errors by delivering key base hits to extend the lead,” said coach Phil Tanner.
Chaz Taylor, Joe Machado and Justin Tanner combined to allow only two earned runs on six hits over six innings for the Mean Machine.
Colby Fanning scored a run on two walks, while Chris Mathe and Wyatt Ross each added two RBIs on two hits.
“Needless to say, it was an excellent exhibition of offensive and defensive skill from this young team,” Tanner said.
Pitchers Mathe, Taylor and Brad Howard combined for the 5-3 victory over the Gaucho Baseball Academy of Glendale in the first game Feb. 15. Taylor also scored twice and had an RBI on two hits.
“Pitching and defense were very important in this low-scoring affair,” Tanner said.
Taylor would pitch another six innings later in the day, allowing three earned runs on six hits as the Mean Machine defeated the Tucson Hurricanes 11-5 in the rubber game of a split at the USSSA Winter Nationals Tournament in Peoria in December.
“The offense ignited when Mean Machine began scoring runs playing ‘small ball,’” Tanner said, “utilizing steals, squeeze bunts and sacrifice bunts to advance runners and push runs across the plate throughout the game.”
Mean Machine’s offense really heated up the next day, Feb, 16, against the Scottsdale Cyclones Purple with 17 hits over four innings in a 19-2 rout. Tanner and Machado teamed up to throw a one-hitter, striking out five and allowing one earned run.
The offense was highlighted by Machado going four-for-four with three RBIs and Cameron Machek sparking the blowout by smashing a triple deep into right center field, knocking in two runs.
“The coaches began to see these young men believing in themselves and that they could win this tournament,” Tanner said.
The offense continued to pour it on in Mean Machine’s second game of the day, another run-ruled 11-1 win over the Arizona Sting from Phoenix.
Machado struck out four, allowing one run over three innings, while Chris Zingali struck out two of the three batters he faced to close the game early in the fourth inning. Tanner and Machado each were perfect at the plate, batting three for three.
“The pace was set right at the beginning in this one with the Mean Machine offense scoring early and often,” Tanner said. “The excitement was palpable.”
The win earned Mean Machine a spot in the semifinal elimination game Feb. 17 against the Maricopa Titans. It was another game that was not close, as Tanner allowed no runs on only one hit through five innings in an 11-4 triumph.
For the full story, please see the Wednesday, March 12, issue of the Cottonwood Journal Extra.
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