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Creek Classic Winners Head into 'Nuch



The 2018 version of Team Loaf 'N Jug fresh off winning the
Cherry Creek Classic Tournament (COURTESY PHOTO/MARIO MATTIVI)


Loaf 'N Jug team fresh off winning the Creek Classic heading into 'Nuch
BY JEFF BERSCH | The Pueblo Chieftain | JUN 11, 2018

Mario Mattivi was still thrilled Monday morning, celebrating his Loaf 'N Jug team's championship over the weekend at the Cherry Creek Classic.

In fact, the third-year coach may have been even happier than the players who made history in doing so. No team from Pueblo had won the tournament in its 32 years.

"They were excited," Mattivi said, "but this team is, I can say it, all business. They're relaxed and focused. They know how to battle. They know how to win."

LNJ beat the Cheyenne Mustangs 14-10 in the title game Sunday afternoon. Earlier in the day, it beat the Colorado Oysters 10-2 in the semifinals.

It's an extremely strong start for a team that now will play its biggest event of the year -- the 39th annual Tony Andenucio Memorial Tournament. It runs Thursday to Sunday on Hobbs and Andenucio fields at the Runyon Field Sports Complex.

LNJ will open at 7:30 p.m. Thursday night against Farmington (N.M.). Last year's Loaf 'N Jug team went a perfect 5-0 in pool play, reaching the semifinals for the first time under the tournament's current format.

No team from Pueblo has won a 'Nuch title since 1984 and no team has reached the championship game since 2001.

Mattivi hopes this past weekend's success carries over into the home tournament.

"That's my hope," Mattivi said. "It's still nerve-wracking. I still get nervous. Everyone pays attention to it. It's a fun time and we get to play the prime-time games.

"It's still stressful, but everyone knows what it's about. I'm pleased with everything we did. I can't emphasize that enough. I'm excited. We're ready for this."

The 'Nuch once again will draw 12 teams to Pueblo for the four-day tournament featuring teams from six states -- Colorado, Wyoming, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas and Nevada.

Joe Andenucio, the tournament director, said it's been the same field for going on 10 years. He expects this year's teams to provide one of the stronger fields.

Andenucio also was pleased to see the success Loaf 'N Jug had over the weekend. A better local team certainly will help interest and attendance for the tournament. The championship game is schedule for 7 p.m. Sunday.

"It's a pretty big deal they're off to a good start and playing good competition and winning," he said. "Hopefully that carries over."

This always is a special time of the year for Andenucio, who spends months and months planning the event. It's always one of the bigger events in Pueblo during the summer and a celebration of baseball and his late father.

"It's time to be pretty damn excited," he said. "I look forward to seeing people I haven't seen in a year and (having) those friendships we've made over all these year. … You bet I'm excited. It's time."

Pool play games begin at 8:30 a.m. Thursday on Andenucio Field when Cherry Creek takes on the Parker Lightning. It's a matchup of the past two champions. Creek won last year.

jbersch@chieftain.com