by Jason Hanes
It took a pair of wild wins, but a core of NCDB players that has been together for the past three years of baseball will close out their last campaign together as champions.
Following a 6-5 win over Virginia Venom (Neighbor) in the winner’s bracket finale, NCDB made sure that there would not be an if-necessary contest as it held on at the end to defeat the Ohio Spiders, 14-11, to win the 12u championship at the Triple Crown Summer Nationals in Myrtle Beach, S.C., Sunday afternoon.
“Our mindset was to win a championship and come out and do our best as possible,” said Ethan Brittain.
“These kids are tremendous,” said NCDB head coach Jory Coughenour. “They’ve had great coaches that teach them to play the game of baseball the right way, but they’ve got a lot of fight in them. Being up or being down, they never quit. They don’t get in cruise control and roll over, and they don’t get in cruise control when they’re up. From top to bottom, these kids are great kids. They play the game the right way, and I couldn’t be more proud of them.”
The championship game would be a see-saw affair. After a scoreless first inning, both teams found an offense rhythm in the second. Ohio Spiders would put four runs on the board, but NCDB answered right back with four of their own, the final two coming on a two-run homer from Conner Thomas.
Ohio Spiders put another four-spot on the board in the third, but this time, a five-run frame from NCDB would give the side the lead for the first time, 9-8. The Spiders only plated a pair in the fourth, but NCDB answered back with a run to knot the game, 10-10.
A single run crossed home in the fifth for the Spiders, and in the bottom of the frame, NCDB would get the big blow. A four-run inning gave NCDB a 14-11 lead with just three outs left to get.
“Momentum in baseball is huge, especially at the 12u level,” Coughenour said. “It’s probably bigger than a pitcher’s velocity or how a kid can hit a baseball, especially when you’re working with 12-year old minds. There’s a lot of things that can affect them in between their ears. The kids have an even keel about themselves. They don’t get too high or too low. That shows they can stay in it and pull out the close games.”
“We just hyped each other up until the end,” Brittain said. “Every time they scored, we tried to hype it up even more.”
With a championship on the line, Coughenour saved team MVP Jackson Allen for the final inning on the mound. Allen would be dominant, retiring the side in order to deliver the 12u championship to his dugout.
The core group of players, with a few recent additions, have been together for NCDB for the past three to four years.
“This team has an incredible work ethic. These kids want to be at the baseball field every day,” Coughenour said. “They get there an hour early for practice if their parents let them, and they stay late after practice. It’s tough to teach them that.”
“It feels amazing to win this championship, because it’s the last one together for us,” Brittain said. “I just enjoyed them and had the best time with them.”