Mike McCannon's decision to offer his baseball team milkshakes and pizza in return for reaching base could be labeled bribery -- or brilliance.
Every member of Steamboat's 10-and-under Division II Triple Crown baseball team reached base at least once in Friday's 17-1 victory over the Parker Storm, sparking the team to huddle and scream "History."
According to McCannon, a Steamboat resident for 12 years, no other 10-and-under local team has ever won a Triple Crown game, so to do so in such convincing fashion made him, the players and the parents seated behind the back stop plenty proud.
"We played a great game," McCannon said. "I'm so happy for these kids."
Steamboat doesn't traditionally fare well in Triple Crown youth events because its teams lack tournament exposure and are months behind the competition with regards to simply getting on a field.
Neither proved to be a disadvantage on Friday evening in Oak Creek, as Steamboat played to near perfection.
Offensively, Steamboat had 17 runs on 12 hits, while starting pitcher Grant McCannon gave up one hit -- a home run to Parker's Taylor Ginn -- and struck out three.
Steamboat wasted little time scoring its first run Friday when Charles Wood's RBI-single drove in leadoff hitter Isiah Forsyth from third in the top of the first.
Wood later scored on a wild pitch.
Parker and Steamboat went in order in the bottom of the first and top of the second, respectively, before Ginn scored the Storm's only run off Grant McCannon and the Steamboat defense in the bottom of the second.
Ginn's line drive shot over left fielder Blayne Conroy's head, rolling all the way to the chain-link fences lining the back of Oak Creek's Lower field for a home run.
The next three Storm players were retired quickly.
Then Steamboat came up to bat in the top of the third with images of milkshakes and pizzas dancing in their heads.
"(Coach) said to swing the bats and don't go down looking," Grant McCannon said.
Seventeen straight Steamboat batters reached safely before the Storm recorded the final two outs in the top of the third. Conroy recorded the first out of the inning earlier for Steamboat after he was tagged out trying to score.
In the third, Wood scored twice and knocked in five runs, while Forsyth scored twice and knocked in three runs. Both Wood and Forsyth had inside-the-park home runs in the third for Steamboat.
"I just heard Coach screaming to go," each said.
Following the post-game handshakes, the Steamboat players and coaches celebrated with chocolate chip cookies, a wonderful compliment to sunflower seeds.
In Steamboat's Triple Crown opener against Fort Collins Friday morning, Steamboat plated four quick runs before Fort Collins rallied to win 5-4. In the morning game, Steamboat struck out 10 times.
Baseball players aged 10 or less have a tendency to leave their bat on their shoulder. Fortunately for McCannon, Steamboat baseball players aged 10 or less have a short memory made even shorter when food bribes are offered.
"I told them if you go down looking, you owe me a milkshake," McCannon said. "I told them if you go down swinging I owe you one. You put the ball in play good things will happen."
McCannon owes 10 mini-players with mini-stirrups and mini-belts one milkshake a piece -- and that was just one game. Steamboat has two more in pool play today with a shot at possibly advancing to Sunday's playoffs.
But in all fairness, a milkshake seems a low price to pay in exchange for the smile that appears on each player's face when he safely reaches first base.
--To reach Melinda Mawdsley call 871-4208
or e-mail email@example.com