Steamboat Springs It wasn't the driving shot 11-year-old Alex Wood was hoping for when he came to the plate, but he didn't complain when the shallow pop fly found the dirt just past first base.
"It came off the handle of the bat," Wood said. "But it was deep enough that it tipped off the first baseman's glove and fell fair."
Wood is the clean-up hitter for Steamboat's 12-year-old baseball team, which is one of two local teams that will advance to the Colorado State Finals this weekend. Steamboat's 12-and-under and 10-and-under all-star teams are the first local Little League teams to advance this far at the state level.
Wood's single came in the championship game against Craig with the score tied at 3 runs each and the bases loaded. Michael Lyon scored on the hit, which allowed Steamboat to grab a 4-3 win over Craig in the July 12 game, which was played in Idaho Springs. The victory game the Steamboat team the District 3 title.
"This is the first time we have ever been close to winning the district tournament," Wood said. "Normally we go to this, get beat in our first game and head back home."
This year, instead of going home, the local team will be headed to Leadville to face Littleton in the first game of the Colorado State Finals. A victory there means a trip to Waco, Texas for a regional tournament and, if they keep winning, the local team could end up in Williamsport, Pa., for the Little League World Series.
During the first day of the double-elimination district tournament in Idaho Springs, the Steamboat team defeated Meeker 10-4 behind a strong pitching performance from Jake Stanford. Stanford allowed just four runs on four hits in the game. He also only walked three batters in the win.
Jeff Truslow provided the offense with a three-run homer in the fifth, and not to be outdone, Taylor Anderson added a two run homer in sixth.
In the second game, the local team bounded past Hayden in the next game with a 5-2 win
Michael Lyon got the win by pitching five solid innings against the hard-hitting Hayden team.
"Michael is not the dominating pitcher Jake Stanford is," Lyon said. "But he focuses on control and pitch placement. For him to be successful required the other eight guys on the field to demonstrate excellent defense."
He got that from outfielder Elliot Girard, who made four spectacular catchers of deep hits. Truslow and Taylor Fletcher also made great plays in the outfield.
Steamboat also beat Grand County 4-3 behind another strong pitching performance from Stanford, who gave up one hit and two walks. Truslow pitched the final two innings, and despite giving up three runs in the bottom of the final inning, he helped his team pick up the much -needed win.
Steamboat suffered its only loss of the tournament on July 11 as Craig pounded the local team in a 13-5 contest to set up the championship rematch.
"Craig is always the team to beat," Wood said. "They always have a strong team and they almost always win this tournament."