Who would have thought.
Of five teams the Tillicum Crushers finished the regular season in fourth place. That meant that in the playoffs all but one of their opponents would have home field advantage. And that meant that all but one of the teams the Crushers faced would get last chance at the plate.Crushers on the fence. Photo by Jenn Simon, wife of Assistant Coach Will Simon.
As far as we know the Tillicum Crushers are the only team in the entire Lakewood Baseball Club – not just our Pinto Division (7-and-8-year-olds) but at every age level – that all come from the same school. That means a number of things. It means we take who we get. It means there’s a school that rallies around these kids. It means there is a common bond and school spirit and high fives in the hallway and teachers who cannot wait for last game results but at some midnight hour are emailing to check the score. It means our favorite color is orange.
It means “We are . . . the Tillicum Crushers.”
And now we play for the championship. We don’t quit. We run like there’s no tomorrow. Nothing gets by us. We back one-another up. We play as a team.
We will not know who will be our opponent this Saturday, June 13, at Clover Park High School Varsity Baseball Field, time to be determined, until after the game Thursday, June 11 between the Radioactives and the Mariners. So stay tuned.
We hope you’ll be a part of the edge-of-your-seat Tillicum baseball history by attending the Championship Game on Saturday. For the latest (time and opponent) send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last year, the Crushers’ inaugural year, the team was featured on the front page above the fold in the Tacoma News Tribune. As a result, donations of money and equipment came in from all over, a phone call followed by a signed letter of congratulations was received from Marilyn Strickland, Mayor of Tacoma, and with emails from folks we’ve never met the Tillicum Crushers had a future.
This – their second year – they play for it all.
And this year, every penny of their registration fees and uniforms came from the Tillicum community itself. Parents don’t pay and you’d be hard pressed to find a more enthusiastic group. In fact, the team has almost $900 in savings already toward next year when many of the players will be moving up (and costing more) with younger players hoping coaches and money can be found for them as well.
The Tillicum Crushers gathered in the dugout prior to donning their batting helmets in the game that had so much to do with who would go on to the championship this past Wednesday night. The coaches shared “you win tonight you get two days off and play for it all on Saturday. Let’s get this done.”
Here following are the highlights of the Crushers’ most recent game against the Radioactives.
Jacob Barr led off with a single through shortstop and took second on the overthrow to first. Following a strikeout, Gabriel Heslop dropped one right in front of the plate and moved Jacob all the way to third, Gabriel stopping at first base. Shawn Talley singled to the second baseman who was playing halfway toward first and was thrown out but Jacob scored, Gabriel reaching second. Erick Corona-Illan drove a ball right down parallel with the third base line – just inches fair – and scored Gabriel. A strikeout followed and the Crushers were up 2-0.
The first batter for the Radioactives struck out. The second flied safely to center field. The third did the same to second and the Radioactives had the go-ahead run at the plate. But two strikeouts ended the inning.
That’s the way the Crushers would start the top of the second – two strikeouts – and then Izaac Sanders connected but right down the first base line to the first baseman.
A grounder through third and into left field would put a Radioactive at second to begin their half of the inning and that runner would score following a strikeout. Two errors on the next batter’s dribbler along the first base line when Crusher infielders attempted outs at both first and third, followed by a single into right field, an error on the return throw and the score was tied. It was taking a while for the Crushers to settle down as a grounder through third and into left and then a strikeout ended the inning as it had started except for the score.
The Crushers were down 2-3.
“Hey, Crushers. That’s ok. It’s our turn.”
It was indeed. The Crushers took Coach Will Simon’s words to heart.
Derek Doss Jr. led off with a hit to shallow center and was almost at second base when the throw arrived. Like a fox chased by a hound, Derek had hard on his heels the second baseman who with outstretched glove made a final, diving attempt to tag Derek hustling back to first base.
Sergio Fernandez fouled off the first pitch, swung through the second, connected on the third and Sergio – known for his speed – ended up sliding safely into second in yet another very, very close play.
Jacob moved Sergio along to third who might have taken home as the third base coach was encouraging him to do but fortunately – given the throw to the plate looked to be in time – Sergio retreated to the bag.
Gauge got a single and Gabriel – in his first back-to-back singles – moved Gauge to second where Gauge slid in safely. Shawn’s line drive was caught by the third baseman and Erick lofted a fly into left field. Five runs would score – the maximum allowed per inning – and the Crushers had retaken the lead, 7-3.
The Radioactives loaded the bases in the bottom of the 3rd with only one out but two successive strike outs ended the threat.
Jasmin Chavoya would get on to lead off the fourth, thanks to a throwing error by the pitcher whereupon she took second. Following a strike out, Chris Dillman hit to left scoring Jasmin. Derek singled and Chris scored. Sergio’s contorted fly ball hit just past the bag at third and spun out of bounds – a fair ball and though Crusher runners were at first and second, a strikeout ended the inning, the Crushers up 9-3.
A single, two strikeouts, another single and the fourth batter up for the Radioactives in the bottom of the fourth inning hit a sharp grounder perhaps five feet to the fair side of first base. Reacting instinctively, the runner at first leaped over the ball to avoid being hit and that might normally have caused Gauge playing first to lose concentration.
He didn’t but rather cleanly fielded the ball and took it to the bag for the third out.
Gauge hit a triple to start the fifth. Gabriel connected for the third time in a row but was tagged out on his way to first while Gauge scored. Shawn hit a grounder that started through the infield but the second baseman dove, gloved the ball, scrambled to his feet and threw to first where Shawn was but barely safe.
Two strikeouts followed however for the Crushers.
The only hit in the last chance for the Radioactives was an easy grounder to Jacob playing the pitcher’s position and he threw to Gauge for the out.
The final: Crushers 10, Radioactives 3. Head Crusher Coach is Mike Barr, Jacob’s father.
Alice Nelson says
This event is truly going to rival UP’s US Open. An edge-of-your seat championship no less craved than that of the pro golfers – seasoned and tested athletes accustomed to photographers and the roar of the crowd. Don’t miss this opportunity to witness the crushers catch fly balls and field grounders. See you Saturday, Tillicum Crushers! Go big, little guys!
David Anderson says
The Tillicum Crushers will play for the PONY League (Protect Our Nation’s Youth) Lakewood Baseball Club Pinto (7-and-8-year-olds) Division Championship at 12 noon Saturday, June 13 at the far back field behind the administration building of Clover Park High School. The Crushers’ opponent will be the Mariners, winners in extra innings Thursday evening over the Radioactives.
Should the Crushers lose the game at noon, there will follow immediately a second game to determine the champion.
It’s a double-elimination playoff and a loss for the Crushers would be its first in the post-season, the Mariners already having lost once – to the Crushers. A double-header would then decide it all.
Though the Radioactives, down 0-1, would load the bases with two outs in the top of the second inning, a strike out left them still scoreless until tying the game in the top of the third.
The score would remain 1-1 until, in the bottom of the fourth inning, the Mariners pushed across a single run to take the lead.
The Radioactives’ last chance at bat in regulation saw two sinking line drives both caught at shoe-string level by Mariner fielders, one of whom tumbled to the ground in shallow left field but held onto the ball. A single, a triple and a throwing error however and it was the Mariners turn to be down to their last bat in the bottom of the fifth – and also down in the score, 2-3.
The Mariners tied it with one swing. And in the extra-inning-sixth, another solo homerun and the Mariners had punched their ticket to the championship.
The Mariners finished the regular season 8-1 and entered the postseason the number one seed.
The Mariners have only two losses in their 10-2 record.
Both to the Crushers.
Setting up a most dramatic game for it all.
It is fitting that the Crushers and the Mariners will face one-another at 38-feet – the distance between the pitcher’s mound and home plate – this Saturday.
A showdown. At high noon.