Nationals sweep district, stay perfectPublished 11:28pm Friday, July 12, 2013
The SYAA Bronco Nationals All-Star team had its key objective in their sights last weekend.
“Our goal for the year was to win the district title,” head coach Michael Barnes Sr. said.
After defeating a team of all-stars from Windsor, then Southampton-Sussex, then the Windsor team again, the Nationals could say, “Mission accomplished.”
And with three tournaments completed and the start of a fourth this week, they have yet to taste defeat, holding a 12-0 record as of July 11.
While their performance last weekend in the Pony East Zone District 1 Championship tourney was not their best, the Nationals did what was necessary.
“I think the thing that drove us was really the fact that (the) Suffolk Youth (Athletic Association) has not had this success that we’ve had in five years,” Barnes said. “The district title has not been won at the Bronco level since 2008.”
The win advanced the Nationals to the next level in Pony Baseball, the sectional tournament, taking place this week in Chesapeake.
To get there, the Suffolk team had to survive the four-team field of the double-elimination district event in Holland. The Nationals started out strong with an 11-1 win over Windsor, a much smoother ride than the re-match in the final.
“We hit the ball offensively a lot better,” Barnes said of the first game. “I had three kids that hit the ball out of the park that day.”
They were Adam Briggs, Noah Floyd and Tyler Spencer.
The Nationals followed with a slug-fest against Southampton-Sussex, winning 17-12.
Windsor emerged from the losers’ bracket for the championship on Saturday, where the Nationals also faced complacency. Pitcher Michael Barnes Jr. said the team poured itself into the first meeting with Windsor and came up with a blowout.
“I felt that we really didn’t play our hardest in the final game,” he said.
Windsor led 3-2 in the second inning, but then SYAA tied it up 6-6 in the third and opened the game up in the fourth, taking a 10-6 lead.
Barnes Jr. helped hold Windsor scoreless in the fourth on the mound. SYAA made its lead 12-6 in the fifth, and Floyd took over as pitcher. He allowed four runs in the fifth and sixth, but gave up nothing in the seventh to close out the game, finishing with three strikeouts.
On offense, he went 2-for-3 and scored three runs. Jay Norris had a big game, going 3-for-4 with one run scored.
Briggs and Noah Cross each went 1-for-2 with a run scored and Barnes Jr. doubled and scored twice.
Catcher Gage Fesette said everyone contributed with hitting, and he was able to help the team on defense: “No runs scored on catching errors.”
Barnes Jr. worked hard on defense too and cited another way in which he was able to provide aid.
“Whenever my teammates got down or got out, I tried to do my best to encourage them,” he said.
The Nationals went 4-0 in the SYAA Baseball Invitational, 4-0 in the Deep Creek Summer Showdown tourney, 3-0 in the district event and then defeated a Kempsville all-star squad 6-5 on Wednesday in the first game of sectionals.
Winning the current tourney would qualify the SYAA team for a regional event in Deep Creek. Advancement beyond that would lead to a zone-level tournament in Pennsylvania followed by the World Series on the West Coast.
But the Nationals’ whole spring 2013 season could have come to an abrupt end if they had not pulled out the district win.
“When everything’s on the line and they had to do it, I think that motivated them and inspired them,” Barnes Sr. said.