A championship run and a haircut

Published 10:05 pm Saturday, June 9, 2012

Windsor Longhorns coach Travis Luter and his Pinto team celebrate their championship win on Saturday after a double-header in which they beat the Smithfield Cubs twice. Luter had promised he would get his hair cut into a Mohawk if they got to the championship game.

 

By Titus Mohler
Correspondent

The Windsor Longhorns Pinto team won their Little League championship game in spectacular fashion Saturday, making coach Travis Luter a champion for the first time, as well as a man with a promise to keep.

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Attempting to motivate his team, Luter had promised to get his hair cut into a Mohawk if the team simply made it to the championship game. But this promise was thought to be exclusive to Luter’s Mustang team (ages 9-10).

The Mustang Longhorns team recovered from a loss last Thursday to win their next three games, but they lost 12-11 in their rematch with the Holland Cardinals, falling just short of the championship game.

The Pinto team (ages 7-8) was still alive, though, and some believed the promise was not just for the Mustangs.

“Well, I’ve tried to get out of it, but there are a couple of parents who have seemed to remind me that it was both ways,” Luter said with a laugh. “Yeah, I don’t remember that, but I think they got me hemmed up. But it don’t matter. Either way, we’re going to do it tonight.”

The Pintos took the long road to the championship after a 15-4 loss to the Smithfield Yankees put them in the loser’s bracket of the double-elimination tournament.

Additionally, at the Pinto level, teams field 10 players, but the Longhorns played with nine throughout the tournament due to an injury.

Like the Mustang team, they fought back, beating the Nansemond River River Bandits 11-7 on Wednesday and the Smithfield Pirates 10-5 on Thursday. Then, on Friday, they faced the Yankees again, but this time they would not be denied, winning 9-8.

They faced the Smithfield Cubs in the championship. A side effect of being in the loser’s bracket meant the Longhorns would have to accomplish a significant feat: They would have to play a doubleheader Saturday against the Cubs and win both games to claim the crown.

They tackled the challenge by jumping on it early, taking a 14-3 lead in the first game that stood fast, though the Cubs rattled off six runs in the sixth and final inning. The Longhorns stopped the streak before it could match the lead, though, and won 14-9.

In the second game, the Longhorns led big again, 9-2, until the Cubs piled up another massive sixth inning. The Longhorns fell behind 11-9 going into the bottom of the sixth, where their championship hopes would ride on the strength of their batting.

They scored a run and then Luter’s son, Trent, came up to bat. With two outs and two strikes, Trent hit the ball, driving the runner from second home to tie the game up at 11. Then, Gavin Tomlin hit the walk-off home run to bring the championship home.

“Yeah, the little guys, man, I tell you, they were like giants out there today,” Luter said. “I’ve never had a championship of my own, of all the years I’ve played. My brother that (coaches) with me, he never had one. The first championship he and I got was through this team.”

And as a man of his word, Coach Luter now has a haircut to remember it by.