By Sean Reilly
The situation in the championship game of the Diamond Nation 11U Fall Brawl tournament couldn’t have been more dramatic.
3Up3Down Baseball Academy, out of Reading, Pa., was seeking its first tournament title of the season.
It had already clawed back from an early eight-run deficit to tie the score against the Diamond Jacks Super 11U. That happened despite having five runners thrown out stealing and another picked off at first base.
3Up3Down placed a runner on third with two outs and two strikes in the bottom of the sixth inning.
As a pitch, which turned out to be ball two, headed toward the plate, Trey Kim – the runner on third base – broke for home. He initially stopped about halfway down the line, far enough to be chased back and draw a throw to the base from the Diamond Jacks catcher.
Kim then changed course, sprinted toward the plate and beat the throw there for a straight steal of home that gave his team an improbable and memorable 9-8 win in its final game of the year.
“My coach sent me, and then it got all weird,” Kim said. “Apparently he told me to stop, but I didn’t know, so I just got in a rundown.”
3Up3Down got started in the sixth when Kim led off by flying out to left field. Catcher Blake Snyder walked, and Kim – as the man who made the prior out – became his courtesy runner.
Kim stole second, and moved over to third on a ground out. He then stole home with Carter Huggard at the plate.
“This was a great way to end the year,” winning coach Todd Williams said. “It was nice for them to show resilience and to bounce back. It was a total team effort. Our hitter had two strikes on him and we were just trying to find a way to get the winning run in from third base to win a championship.
“Whatever we could do, we were going to try to do. We’ve been in a couple of championship games, but came up short. This one we were able to pull out and win. It was a fun time with a great atmosphere.”
A victory seemed unlikely after the Diamond Jacks scored three times in the top of the first and added five more in the second for an 8-0 lead.
Alan Peña had an RBI single to highlight the first inning, while Nate McGann’s two-out, two-run grounds rule double to center field for a 7-0 score was the big hit in the second inning.
McGann, the Diamond Jacks’ catcher, was the defensive star, throwing out one runner in the first inning, another in the second, two more in the third and yet another in the fifth.
Despite losing all of those baserunners, 3Up3Down was able to chip away at its large deficit.
Dillen McGovern reached on a two-out error in the second inning to deliver the first two runs.
The Pennsylvania team then scored five in the fourth to get within a run. Riggs Williams drove in the first with a sacrifice fly to left field. An error and wild pitch scored two more before Huggard dumped a two-out double into shallow right field to score a run and get 3Up3Down within 8-6. He then scored on a single to left field by McGovern.
3Up3Down started the fifth inning with leadoff man Garrett Pope drawing a full-count walk. He stole second, and, after a strikeout, scored the tying run on a single to center by Williams.
And then came the dramatic sixth inning, which included 3Up3Down getting out of a first-and-second situation with one out in the top of the inning to maintain the tie.
“I’ll remember this one,” Kim said. “We fought back with nine unanswered runs to win the game. It’s a great way to end the season and win our first championship. It was amazing. Everyone was yelling and screaming and everything. It was a great feeling.”