Avenging last years’ loss
For the second year in a row, Crested Butte’s Green Robin Yankees advanced to the Little League Division 1 championship, determined to exorcise the demons from a year ago. After two hard-fought battles against Crested Butte’s Rockies and the number-one seeded Gunnison Bank and Trust, the Yankees were again up against GB&T for the title.
The Yankees took the field with hurler Sam “I AM” Stepanek on the hill. GB&T plated two runs on two walks and a hit before Sam found his groove, striking out the last two and ending the inning. The Yankees answered back with two runs of their own. Leading off was Dom “The Dominator” Piccaro, who singled. Winter Wallace had a single and Joe “OJ” Coburn had a two-RBI single.
GB&T added three in the top of the second, led with timely hitting and aggressive base running by Lucas Solanick. The Yankees Finn “Finny” Smith and Robby “Mister Determination” Oberling tracked down balls in the outfield and quickly threw them in to stop any further damage. Sam “I AM” proceeded to shut them down with his blazing fastball.
After two strikeouts and a walk, the Yankees looked a little tight; perhaps the pressure of the long season was taking its toll. Dom “The Dominator” once again got things going with a scorching single to put players on the corners for the Yankees. Slater “The Hit-Man” Weil, with a staggering .739 season batting average, stepped to the plate with two outs and laced a line drive up the middle, driving in two runs.
The rally continued when Winter, who led the team in home runs, once again crushed one, bringing the crowd to its feet. Joe Coburn followed with a walk and the rally was capped by the season surprise, Rowan “I can do whatever my brother does” Piccaro, who crushed a fastball down the third base line for an RBI double.
The Yankees then turned to closer Winter “Mo-Man” Wallace, who’s pitched his way into the hearts of the fans with impeccable control and speed. He struck out two, but then Colton got hold of one and GB&T were again within one run of catching the Yanks.
Going into the bottom of the third, GB&T strongman Lucas proceeded to strike out the first two batters, when Joe “Committed” Cerio, the Yanks’ most improved player, worked a full count walk hoping to start something. Dom followed with a single, but the inning ended with a strike-out and the Yankees were left with a one-run lead.
GB&T attacked early on in the top of the fourth with a walk and a hard-hit home run by Lucas to take an 8-7 lead. Christian Adamich singled, but the Yanks defense once again came up with stellar plays, as it had all season, getting the next three batters out and preventing further damage.
Going into the bottom of the inning, the Yankees would not give up and go away. The see-saw battle would continue. Winter led off with a single, Joe Coburn following with an impressive double. It was up to Rowan, the RBI man, who again came through with a sacrifice RBI. Ethan “Birthday Boy” Carroll had a timely single and then stole three bases with his blazing speed and heads-up base running. Alexander “The Rock” Dumas took one for the team to the head and got to first base. He proceeded to steal three bases to give the Yankees an 11-8 lead.
As they headed to the field for the top of the fifth inning, veterans Slater and Dom huddled the team together on the mound for some motivational words. Who knows what was said, but the team took their positions with fire in their eyes. Winter was poised and lethal, striking out the first two batters. The next batter hit a high fly ball to first—Slater got under it to make the catch, sealing the victory and the championship for the Yankees.
Two team members were not able to play the tournament, but their contributions during the season do not go unnoticed. Luke “The Nuke” Collins was busy behind the plate in Japan, where he had been recruited. Camden “The Glove” Scales was sick, but supported his team as he cheered from the bench.
It was a truly magnificent year for the players and coaches. The kids worked very hard all season and their dedication paid off. Thanks go to all of the parents and players for making this a memorable season.