Turner’s inside-the-parker sends CT Cowboys 14U to victory

By DN WRITING STAFF | May 26, 2024

Julien Turner cranked a two-run, inside-the-park homer for the Cowboys.

By Rich Bevensee

After helping his team battle through five innings of a one-run game, Julien Turner decided to use his bat to create a little breathing room.

So when his sixth-inning line drive to center field skipped to the fence, sending outfielders in hot pursuit, Turner knew the race was on.

“I’m trying to fly around the bases, and once I hit second I’m trying to see Coach and see if he rounds me or holds me up,” Turner said. “I was definitely thinking three out of the box, and once I saw him waving me home I knew I had it.”

Turner’s two-run, inside-the-park home run in the top of the sixth fueled a five-run rally and boosted the 14U Connecticut Cowboys to a 12-2 victory over Prime Time Aces–O’Leary in a Memorial Day Classic pool play contest on Saturday morning at Diamond Nation in Flemington.

“I try to create momentum and it was definitely a big starter for our rally,” Turner said.

The Cowboys, based in Wallingford, Conn., improved to 2-0 with the win; they beat Diamond Jacks Gold 14U, 4-3, on Friday night. Pool play wraps up for the Cowboys on Sunday at 2:15 p.m. against Warehouse Dust Devils Black.

Turner, who said it was his first inside the park job since Little League, finished the day 3-for-3 and scored four times. Starting pitcher Silas Kennedy helped himself by going 3-for-3 with a pair of doubles, two RBI and three runs scored. Jack Brezicki, who entered as a pinch hitter in the sixth inning, added two RBI singles.

In a balanced effort, six Cowboys had a base hit and six drove in at least one run. The top six batters in the lineup went a combined 12-for-20, a statistic which pleased head coach Vinny Teixeira.

“One through six have been doing a really good job for us – getting on base, driving in runs,” Teixeira said. “They’re really balanced, and they’re similar hitters – line drive, gap-to-gap hitters – and they’ve been doing a really good job. When our bottom of the lineup gets going like we have this tournament – moving runners over, safety squeeze – that’s when things really go well.”

Kennedy and Cowboys reliever Zach Solla were locked in a really good pitcher’s duel with Aces righty J.D. Loving through five innings. The Cowboys led 3-2 thanks to Xavier Puente’s sacrifice fly in the fourth.

Kennedy, using only a fastball and changeup, allowed two runs on five hits and no walks over three innings and struck out four.

“Silas is as cool and as calm as they come,” Teixeira said. “He came in and closed last night. He’s somebody I depend on and trust with my whole heart to throw strikes. That’s the way he’s been for the four years I’ve coached him.”

Kennedy, normally the Cowboys’ starting catcher, was making his third appearance on the mound this spring.

“I tried to stay within myself,” Kennedy said. “Some of the ones that got away from me were when I was trying to put guys away with my fastball, blow it right by them. But when I was able to locate and get it in the zone and create weak contact, I felt they couldn’t really touch me much.”

When Kennedy moved to center field after he was relieved by Zach Solla in the fourth, he made a sliding catch of Loving’s low liner and doubled up a runner at second base for an inning-ending double play in the fifth.

“I saw him running – I think they were stealing on the play – and I knew that if I could make the play we had him doubled up,” Kennedy said.

In the sixth, Solla got the Cowboys revved up when he scored on the front end of a double steal with Liam Laffin buying time running to second to make the score 4-2.

Turner came up and hammered a low line drive into center for his two-run homer. Brezicki notched a pinch-hit RBI single and Gavin Hoffman laid down a perfect sac bunt to score Brezicki and give the Cowboys an 8-2 lead.

After  holding the Aces scoreless in the bottom of the sixth, the Cowboys sent their entire 11-man lineup to the plate and scored another four runs. Kennedy cracked a two-run double, Brezicki tagged an RBI single and Ethan Hamel walked with the bases loaded.

For the Cowboys, Solla pitched three scoreless innings of relief. He allowed three walks and struck out two. Jacob Longo pitched a perfect seventh with one strikeout.

“The good news is we haven’t played to our full capability yet,” Teixeira said. “We have some high school kids just joining us because they can’t play travel until their high school season is over, and some of us haven’t seen each other since the winter. We’re just trying to click as a team now. We’re not there yet but we’ll get there.”

It was the pool play opener for the Aces, who have a doubleheader on Sunday. They will face Diamond Jacks Gold 14U at 8 a.m. and Legends Prospects at 10 a.m.

For the Aces, Loving went 5⅓ innings and yielded eight runs on nine hits and no walks with nine strikeouts. Before the tumultuous sixth inning, he had allowed just three runs on four hits. Dhanava Dawla pitched the final 1⅔ innings for the Aces.

The teams traded a pair of runs apiece in the first inning. Puente had an RBI single and Kennedy scored on a balk to give the Cowboys a 2-0 lead. The Aces got those runs right back on a two-run double by Aden Heinzer.

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