Windsor team goes 17-0Published 9:40pm Tuesday, June 11, 2013
The 12 players on the Bronco division Windsor Nationals baseball team came together for the spring season and took the Western Tidewater Pony League by storm.
They pursued victory relentlessly until on Saturday, in the end-of-season tournament championship game, they defeated the Windsor Gators 13-3 to cap off a perfect season record of 17-0.
Nationals head coach Jeff Rogers said it was made possible by a complete team effort from every member of the roster.
“We won 14 games by the slaughter rule, and when the top of our lineup wasn’t hitting, the bottom of our lineup was hitting,” Rogers said.
It was not that every kid on the team had identical stats at season’s end, but everyone made meaningful contributions at some point during the run.
“We’ve had kids that only had three or four hits all year long, but they got them when we needed them,” Rogers said.
He said great baseball talent was not first and foremost what powered the team’s success.
“I think it’s that we had 12 great kids that just happened to play baseball,” he said. “I don’t think it’s 12 great baseball players combined together. I think it’s 12 great kids and support of the parents and their willing determination to fight.”
During moments of struggle, older players would work to lift the spirits of the younger and vice versa.
“I almost teared up when I was talking to them after the (championship) game, because every time they would come to the dugout, if somebody struck out, you would see second-year players picking up first-year players, you would see first-year players picking up second-year players,” he said. “There was never any negativity the whole season long.”
To win the championship game, Rogers said, “I think we did something we usually weren’t able to do all season long — we jumped on them early.”
While the early start may have been different, the strengths that had sustained the Nationals throughout the season were on display.
“We basically took the opportunities that other teams had given us all year long,” Rogers said. “I think this team kind of excels in running the bases and making the best out of opportunities on passed balls.”
Lead-off hitter Garrett Blatt singled in the first inning on Saturday.
“He stole second, he stole third and I believe he stole home on a passed ball,” Rogers said.
The Nationals piled four more runs on top of that before the inning was over.
On the defensive side of things, the Nationals were even more imposing.
“I think our biggest asset was our pitching,” Rogers said. “We were seven pitchers deep, and that’s really hard for other teams to get more than two pitchers that can consistently throw strikes.”
Jacob Council’s pitching left the Gators in a 5-0 hole after the first inning.
“It was three of our second-year players — Nick Donovan, Jacob Council and Tylor Butler — who were our top three pitchers,” Rogers said.
The Nationals scored five more runs scattered between the middle innings and then put in three more in the fifth to end the game on the slaughter rule.
Rogers said that Butler got on base, and “he’s probably the fastest kid on the team. He got all the way around, and that made it 12-3.”
Then Donovan, who hit a home run in his first at-bat during a scrimmage game at the beginning of the season, provided the season with a perfect bookend by hitting a walk-off inside-the-park home run.