Posted by Frederick Chan on Apr 28 2003 at 05:00PM PDT
To borrow from Charles Dickens, Sunday "was the best of times, it was the worst of times." Well, at least the first part is true. In Sunday tournament action, the 13 year old K.C. Titans squeezed out a dramatic 3-2 win over the tenacious Sugarland Lonestars to post a 3-1 record and win the K.C. Invitational Tournament at beautiful Bayland Park in Southwest Houston. A few hours earlier, the 14 y/o K.C. Titans advanced into the semifinal game of the Round Rock Triple Crown Sports Baseball Tournament with a 3-0 record-- including a win over the #6 ranked 14 year old team in the State of Texas-- but couldn't quite make it to the finals, losing 9-2 to the Austin Slam Astros. In Round Rock, the Slam Astros capitalized on several wind blown high pops and some questionable Titan fielding to tally five runs on five "hits" and one error. In the second inning, the Slam Astros loaded the bases and emptied them with three unearned runs when a ground ball skidded past the waiting second baseman. That made the score 8-0, and with an excellent pitcher on the mound for Austin, one sensed that the Titans were climbing up a steep hill all game long. The Titans got one run back in the top of the 4th when Joe Silver launched a pitch over the left field fence, cutting the lead to 8-1. However, the Slam Astros countered with a solo home run off reliever Daniel Rothenberg in the bottom of the frame on a hanging curveball that may still be hanging in the wind near Williamsberg, Texas. The Titans closed out the scoring in the 6th inning on a leadoff double by Daniel Rothenberg, who advanced to third on a fielder's choice ground ball to short by Beau Faulk and scored on a fielder's choice ground ball to short by George Murphy. Brian Borski had a great game at the plate, posting a three for three day (all singles). The only other offense that the Titans could muster against the Slam Astros ace pitcher were scattered doubles by Daniel Rothenberg, Cameron Brown, Brett Gibson and Joe Silver's home run. Daniel Rothenberg did a pretty good job in a long-relief role, allowing only one earned run (the one that is still being tracked on some GPS devices), on 4 hits with 2 walks and 3 strikeouts against a very potent Slam Astro offense. With the loss, the Titans' record moved to 3-1 in the tournament, in which they scored a total of 31 runs in their three wins. While the team was disappointed not to bring home the big trophy, the weekend was a success overall. Turning to the K.C. 13 year olds, they say that there is nothing like home cooking. The 13 y/o Titans stayed at home this weekend and earned first place trophies by posting a 3-1 record, including a thrilling 3-2 win in a nailbiter finale against the Sugarland Lonestars. The game was so exciting that it deserves more than the usual recap. In the top of the first inning, Titan pitcher Jeremy Schaffer gave up a leadoff double, but then stranded the runner at third on a sacrifice fly to centerfield and back-to-back strikeouts of the Lonestars' usually potent #3 and cleanup hitters. In the bottom of the first, Charles Mann singled and advanced to second on a wild pitch, but could not score when Lonestar pitcher Ross Miller clamped down and got three successive outs. In the top of the second, the Lonestars could manage only a walk and a stolen base off Jeremy Schaffer, but no runs. In the bottom of the second, Trey Hibbert walked with one out, but was picked off first by the crafty Lonestar pitcher. This was a critical play, since Jeremy Schaffer followed with a double to left-centerfield. Even though the Titans could not push a run across in the 2nd inning, Trey would definitely atone for this one later in the game. In the top of the third, Jeremy Schaffer did his best Randy Johnson impression, getting the Lonestars on a fielder's choice ground ball, a strikeout, and a perfect strike from Pat Brosch to Grant Haynes to nail the Lonestar's runner attempting to steal second base. In the bottom of the third, Colin Bear reached base on an error and Charles Mann doubled him to third base. However, Ross Miller clamped down and got three successive Titans on a foul out to the catcher, a fly out to the shortstop and a foul out to the first baseman. In the top of the fourth, a tiring Jeremy Schaffer struck out the first batter, and walked the second. The Lonestars #2 hitter, Ross Seaton blasted a hard ground ball to Jared Rothenberg at first who fielded the ball on his knees and threw to Ross Chan at short for the force out. This would prove to be a crucial play since the Lonestars followed by loading the bases on a single and a walk. Then, with two outs and the bases loaded, #5 hitter Ryan Burnaman hit a fly ball to shallow left fielder. As the Lonestar runners were rounding third and heading home, left fielder Paul Knowlton sacrificed his body and dived for the fly ball, sliding his glove under the sinking white sphere just before it hit the ground. Despite a hard collision with the turf, Knowlton managed to hang onto the ball for the third out of the inning. Somehow, the Titans managed to keep the Lonestars off the board yet again. In the bottom of the 4th, the Titans loaded the bases with 2 outs on a walk to Jeremy Schaffer, a single to left field by Jared Rothenberg and a Colin Bear hit-by-pitch. However, a hard ground ball by Charles Mann that might have gotten through the infield struck Colin Bear between first and second base, and he was called out for interference. Thus, the game remained scoreless after 4 innings of play. In the top of the 5th inning, Charles Mann came on to relieve Jeremy Schaffer. With two outs, the Lonestars threatened again, putting runners on second and third on a single and a double. Charles Mann induced Ryan Smith to ground out to second to end the inning. The score in the middle of 5 innings of play was still 0-0. In the bottom of the 5th inning, the Titans erupted for 3 huge runs. With one out, Paul Knowlton singled, Grant Haynes was hit by a pitch, and Ross Chan chased them both home with a booming triple to right-centerfield. Trey Hibbert drove home what would ultimately prove to be the winning run with a sacrifice fly to center field. The score after 5 innings of play, Titans 3, Lonestars 0. The Lonestars broke onto the scoreboard in the 6th inning. With one out, Alan Hoover singled, Trace Cryer was hit by a pitch, Ross Seaton walked, and Taylor Overbey drove in Hoover with a single. Grant Haynes came in to pitch with one out and the bases loaded. He got Drew Owen to fly out to center field, scoring Trace Cryer to make the score 3-2. Grant struck out Ryan Burnaman to finally end the inning. The score in the middle of 6 was Titans 3 - Lonestars 2. In the bottom of the 6th inning, the Titans went down quietly on three successive infield ground balls. Thus, they went to the top of the 7th clinging to a slight 3-2 lead. Grant Haynes continued his masterful relief in the 7th, striking out the first batter, Will Parisi, on a 2-2 curveball. Tyler McGrath hit a high, wind-blown foul fly down the first base line. First baseman, Jared Rothenberg sacrificed his body, snagging the foul fly a fraction of a second before colliding with the fence. With two outs, Haynes induced Walker Dillie to hit a fly ball to the center of the infield. Jared Rothenberg and Grant Haynes both called for the catch and Jared thankfully ceded to Grant at the last second. The ball dropped into Grant's glove, and the 13 year old K.C. Titans had earned their first tournament trophy of the spring with a hard fought 3-2 late-inning victory. Congratulations to the Titans, their coaches, Glenn Haynes, Bob Rohrbach, Jack Schaffer, and Tim Mann, and tournament director and team photographer Fred Chan, on a very successful tournament. Go Titans!!!! This coming weekend will find the 13 year old Titans on the road in not-so-beautiful LaPorte for a tournament, while the 14 year old Titans host a tournament here at Bayland Park. Thank you to all the parents who helped to make this past weekend a success for both teams. See you at the ball park.


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