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Collegians claim national title

BY JEFF LETOFSKY | The Pueblo Chieftain | JULY 21, 2019

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Playing with grit, determination and a never-say-die attitude, the Spradley Collegians captured a national title on Sunday at Andenucio Field.

The Collegians defeated the Cutthroats 6-4 to win the Stan Musial National Tournament, rolling through the 10-team tournament without a loss.

“It was an up and down year both personally and with the team,” Spradley coach I can’t say enough about my assistant coaches. They were phenomenal. The guys are a bunch of team players, played for each other. When they were called upon, they did their jobs.

Both teams played nailbiters in the semifinals.

Spradley narrowly reached the championship game, rallying for three runs in the bottom of the seventh inning in its semifinal game against Sterling to win 7-6.

And the Cutthroats needed eight innings to knock off the New Mexico Frackers 8-7.

The championship game was a back-and-forth affair.

The Cuttroats rode a two-run first inning for a couple innings.

Grant Dudden, Praxie Vigil and Austin Brady hit consecutive singles off Spradley starter Jayson Peterson. Following a fielder’s choice by Joe Quintana that scored Dudden, Nick Murray made it 2-0 with a run-scoring single up the middle.

The Collegians tied the game in the third when Alan Garcia singled sharply to left field and Logan Gibbons hit a ball off the center field wall where Cutthroats center fielder Brayden Luft ran headlong into the wall. The ball dropped at the warning track and Gibbons circled the bases with a two-run inside-the-park home run. Luft exited the game.

The hosts went ahead 3-2 in the fourth as Lucas Kaber singled, stole second and scored an unearned run on an error.

But the Cutthroats rallied themselves, chasing Peterson in the fifth with a pair of runs.

Not to be outdone, the Collegians came back for a third time, pouring across three runs in the fifth. Three walks scored one run as Zach Hanenberg drew a bases-loaded free pass. Then, Kaber delivered the big blow with a seeing-eye single over the second baseman’s head that plated more runs.

“Our sticks have been hot the past couple days and that’s a huge reason why we succeeded this weekend,” Kaber said. “It’s amazing. We’re proud to be from Pueblo, proud to play for Pueblo.”

Gibbons took over on the mound after that, entering the game in the sixth with the Cutthroats threatening with two runners on and no outs. But he struck out a batter and his defense spun an around-the-horn double play to get out of the inning.

Gibbons also threw the seventh, getting two quick outs before walking a batter. A fielder’s choice ended the game and provided Spradley with the national crown.

Gibbons talked about his homer and his pitching performance.

“I’ve been taught you run as hard as you can, no matter where the ball is,” Gibbons said. “Coach kept waving me around and got it done. Tied it up 2-2 and ended up winning the game.

“That was my fifth inning I’ve thrown this summer. I’ve always been a two-way, come in and throw as hard as I can, as long as it works.”

Spradley leadoff hitter Alan Garcia was named the tournament’s most valuable player and Joe Quintana was selected as the tournament’s most outstanding hitter.

Pechek said his team kept grinding.

“That just shows the heart this team has,” he said. “It shows the type of players we have in Southern Colorado. The coaches in Pueblo teach them the right way.

“I love bringing good publicity to Pueblo and it starts with the feeder teams. It’s an amazing time.”

 Chieftain interim sports editor Jeff Letofsky can be reached at jletofsky@chieftain.com or on Twitter @JTosk12

 


Championship Game

Spradley 6, Cuttthroats 4

Cutthroats 200 100 0 — 4 11 2

Collegians 002 130 X — 6 7 0

Vigil, Perry (4), B.Kornegay (5) and J.Kornegay; Peterson, Pickett (5), Gibbons (6) and Thomas. HR--Collegians: Gibbons (3rd, 1 on).

-- Compiled by Jeff Letofsky