Colby Crills got the most out of his legs and Bryce Davenport sent a fly ball to center field just far enough to drive in the winning run as 3UP3DOWN Baseball edged the Morris County Cubs, 4-3, in the 14U Boys of Summer championship game last night at Diamond Nation.
Crills drew a walk with one out and quickly stole second and third base with Davenport in the batter’s box. Davenport worked the count to 2-2 before lifting the fly ball toward center fielder Colin Richter.
Crills tagged at third base and Richter made a good throw to the plate but Crills got an excellent jump and slide in ahead of the tag to secure the championship for 3UP3DOWN.
“I was ready to run,” said Crills. “I trust my speed and my coaches who gave me the green light.” Crills got the go-ahead to steal second but he was on his own after that.
“We teach the guys to be aware on the bases and take what is given to them,” said 3UP3DOWN coach Clint Fernandez.
Crills stole third easily to set up Davenport’s clutch sac fly.
“He had a high leg kick,” said Crills of Cubs reliever Christian Zurlow, who actually pitched very well following starter Matt Rattay. “After the first pitch he didn’t come back to me, so I thought I could get there.”
Righthander Avery Bohn was strong through the first five innings for 3UP3DOWN, sending his team into the sixth inning clinging to a 3-2 lead. But Morris County nicked the 3UP3DOWN bullpen for a run to tie the game at 3-3.
Luke Dickerson, the Cubs’ No. 2 hitter, got the tying rally going with a leadoff double to deep left field. Reliever Paul Peterson nearly escaped the jam from there, getting a pop out and strikeout as Dickerson held second.
Zurlow then drew a walk and Matt Rattay, the Cubs’ starting pitcher, laced a single into left field and Dickerson barely beat the throw home to tie the game. Peterson, to his credit, stopped the bleeding right there when he struck out the next batter looking at a curveball on the outside corner.
The Cubs struck for two runs off Bohn in the second inning, keyed by Connor Ramsey’s two-out RBI single to right field. Bohn’s real trouble that inning stemmed from a pair of walks but he was a different pitcher once the third inning began.
The righthander would retire 10 of the last 11 batters he faced, permitting just one runner on an infield error. He limited the Cubs to two runs on a single hit over five innings, striking out four and walking three.
“My fastball was working really well,” said Bohn. “I wasn’t feeling the curveball as much. I was able to work the hitters with the fastball so it wasn’t too bad.”
3UP3DOWN answered the Cubs’ rally in the second with a run in the bottom of the inning. Davenport drew a leadoff walk and was bunted to second by Bohn. Shane Rosenberry drew a walk and Rattay plunked Gavin Strump with a pitch to load the bases. Rattay almost got out of it but he issued a two-out walk to C.J. Fernandez to force home Davenport with the team’s first run.
Rattay got out of further trouble in the second but had to battle again in the third after Peterson started things with a two-out double deep down the left field line. Crills and Davenport drew walks to load the bases before Bohn, taking matters into his own hands, drilled a single to right field that scored two runs and put 3UP3DOWN in front, 3-2, for the first time.
3UP3DOWN, based in Reading, Pa., had been hovering around championship gold all summer, placing second in its last four tournaments.
“We’ve been performing really well,” said Bohn. “We just couldn’t get that championship. That’s why winning this one feels so good. I love this team.”
For coach Fernandez, the 14U Boys of Summer carried much meaning.
“It’s a really nice feeling to get this win,” said Fernandez. “We needed it.”
Bohn reasserting himself after the second inning certainly put 3UP3DOWN in a better position. He would be named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player for his pitching and hitting exploits.
“Avery had a rough second inning and, all of a sudden you looked up in the third and fourth inning and he was rolling,” said Fernandez.
3UP3DOWN has been rolling all summer. Now it has some championship hardware to show for it all.