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Southern Plains 9U Come Home From State with a 1-2 Record

Things looked promising for the Southern Plains 9U All-Star team at the Babe Ruth State Tournament held in Southeast Denver over the weekend after they won their first game against East Central in an 8-7 thriller, despite being in a five-hour rain delay.  That win advanced the local boys to the next round where they faced up with host team Southeast Denver Red.  They were in that game for a while, but eventually lost in the mercy rule, 16-6.  With one loss, they were in a do-or-go-home situation facing a strong team from Boulder.  They would run out of steam in the final game losing in a big score, 25-4.  Ayden Hose making a play at home plate. (Photo credit: Rachel Bletzacker)

The state tournament in Southeast Denver was an exceptional experience for the very youngest of players that Southern Plains puts on the field.  They played against teams that had been together all season, and the fact that Southern Plains had just put their team together hurt their cohesiveness.  However, the SP coaches, Miles Smith, Greg Shalberg, and Blake Bogenhagen were excited at the amount of improvement they saw in these little guys.

Jayson Bletzacker from Eads was on the mound in the first game against East Central.  He did a good job of holding off the high-octane hitters from up north. 

Offensively, SP led off in the top of the first inning when Colton DeForest came through with a double with one out.  Bletzacker helped himself with an RBI single to DeForest.  East Central answered with two runs off of errors until Bletzacker took matters in his own hands and struck out two.  In the top of the second Southern Plains came roaring back with three runs coming from Drayden McCray, Coy King, and Ayden Hose.  Hose and DeForest both had RBIs in the inning.  EC knotted the game, 4-4, after their at-bat in the bottom of the 2nd inning.  In that inning, Marcus Garcia replaced Bletzacker on the mound.  Southern Plains lost a little ground in the third as East Central squeaked out one run, but the locals failed to add to their total—now trailing, 5-4.  It would be the fourth inning for Southern Plains that sealed the deal as the youngsters grabbed three runs.  King started out with a single and Hose then walked.  Garcia walked to load the bases.   Bletzacker, again, came up big hitting a two-run single with bases juiced.  Garcia was on third and eventually scored on a passed ball.  Weston Mitchek had a fine single but Bletzacker got caught at third trying to extend the play for three away.

Garcia held off East Central and the home boys added one more run in the top of the 5th inning.  Drayden McCray started the at-bat by getting on base on a hit pitch.  He would then steal second.  Hose came to the plate and nailed an RBI single to McCray.  After 4.5 innings SP had the slight lead 8-5; however, East Central had two more at-bats to try to pull the upset.  Southern Plains went with McCray on the mound who did an excellent job giving up just one run in each of the final two innings. 
Opponent and Ayden waiting for the umps final call at the plate---he was called out! (Photo credit: Rachel Bletzacker)
Bletzacker led the way for Southern Plains offensively having 3 hits on 4 visits to the plate and contributing 3 RBIs.  Hose had 2 RBIs on 2 hits and 2 runs scored.  DeForest had 1 RBI, 2 hits and 1 run scored.  Southern Plains had 11 hits overall.

In the second game of the tournament for SP, they would start strong against SE Denver Red and were knotted 2-2 after one inning.  In that first at-bat SP loaded the bases with two walks and a hit pitch.  McCray then came to the plate and hit an RBI single scoring DeForest.  With the bases still juiced Kooper Brossman added a run off an RBI single for Bletzacker. 

Bletzacker was again on the mound for SP and would give up 2 runs in the first inning. 

The big inning for SP came in the top of the second as Trevin Smith started the series with a walk followed by a walk for Hose.  DeForest then came through once again with an RBI single to Smith leaving Hose at third base.  Hose would eventually score off a passed ball and DeForest advanced to third.  Bletzacker then came up with a single that scored DeForest.  Bletzacker held off the Red in the bottom of the 2nd and Southern Plains was in control 5-2 until the wheels fell off for them in the bottom of the third when SE Denver scored 9 runs.  That would be the back breaker for the Southern Plains group as they could not overcome that large deficit and only scored one run on their last at-bat.
Weston Mitchek knocks the ball down to get the out at first base. (Photo credit: Rachel Bletzacker)
McCray had a tremendous game with 2 RBIs on 2 hits.  DeForest, too, was tough contributing 1 RBI off of 1 hit and 2 runs scored.  Bletzacker had one RBI, 1 hit and 1 run scored.  Southern Plains had 5 hits in the game and allowed 15 for Southeast Denver Red.

That loss was tough to bounce back from and the youngsters didn’t do a very good job of forgetting about their loss.  Unfortunately, in sports those losses have to become ‘water under the bridge’ because there’s always another opponent waiting.  This time it was a very tough Boulder team that had their sights on the Southern Plains boys. 

The Boulder team collected 20 hits in the game and Southern Plains only mustered up 4 hits.  Hose had 2 RBIs with one hit, while Weston Mitchek had another RBI for the SP team.

Despite the fact that their first experience at the All-Star level did not go as they would have liked, the boys did have success early in the tournament.  They also learned some valuable lessons that 9-year-olds have to suffer through in order to be a better ballplayer.  They’ll get there as they had a lot of bright moments during the weekend of state baseball competition.

The 2018 Southern Plains 9U All-Stars:  (Back Row) Coaches Blake Bogenhagen, Greg Shalberg, Myles Smith (middle) Kooper Brossman(CW), Jerry Holdren(H), Drayden McCray(H), Jayson Bletzacker(E), Colton DeForest(H), Coy King(H), Ayden Hose(E) (bottom) Trevin Smith(CW), Kase Shalberg(CW), Gaige Mitchek(CW), Marcus Garcia(CW), Caden Muth(CW), Weston Mitchek(E). (Photo credit: Rachel Bletzacker)
The 2018 Southern Plains 9U All-Stars:  (Back Row) Coaches Blake Bogenhagen, Greg Shalberg, Myles Smith (middle) Kooper Brossman(CW), Jerry Holdren(H), Drayden McCray(H), Jayson Bletzacker(E), Colton DeForest(H), Coy King(H), Ayden Hose(E) (bottom) Trevin Smith(CW), Kase Shalberg(CW), Gaige Mitchek(CW), Marcus Garcia(CW), Caden Muth(CW), Weston Mitchek(E). (Photo credit: Rachel Bletzacker)
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