Three Rivers Little League teams win state tournaments; regional play is now at plate
Aspen, Roaring Fork Valley represented among team rosters
VAIL — Summer is always better when the hometown baseball squad is relevant. Sorry, Rockies — make room for the Three Rivers Little Leaguers (TRLL).
With the juniors softball team already clinching the state title earlier this month, TRLL added two more teams to the list of state champions on Monday. The 12U and 14U TRLL all-star teams will advance to respective regional tournaments for a chance to play in the Little League World Series. The 11U team lost a tight battle in Gypsum on Tuesday, 6-5 to Academy (Colorado Springs) in that division’s state title game.
The 12U team — which plays in the ‘majors’ division, broadcast internationally every summer on ESPN from Williamsport, PA — continued its dominant play from districts — TRLL has outscored opponents 62-12 in its five postseason games — in the double-elimination state tournament in Thornton. District 2 champions South Boulder fell to district 5 representative Academy (Colorado Springs) in the first round Friday to face TRLL, who received a first-round bye.
On Saturday, TRLL won 15-0 in three innings, led by Hudson Rozga, who struck out five of the eight batters he faced in 1 2/3 innings of work. Sanders Dodds closed out the game, which ended by mercy rule. Aspen’s Clayton Folk hit a three-run home run in the second inning to put the game away early as TRLL coasted with 10 hits.
After defeating South Boulder again, Academy returned to face TRLL in the 12U title match on Monday night at Northern Lights Field.
The Colorado Springs club scored two in the first, but the local squad rallied to make it 3-2 after one. A double by Kasen Aguirre and a home run by Evan Neuman, who finished the game 3-for-3 at the plate, fueled another 8-0 run. Tavin Shreeve was brilliant on the mound, going all four innings and allowing just five hits and three earned runs.
“Our pitchers are dialed in each game and do what they need to do to stay focused under pressure,” said pitching coach Ben Dodds. “They keep their heads up and battle each pitch.”
In the fourth inning, Hunter Uzdavinis’ walk-off hit put the 10-run rule into effect, winning the Colorado state championship game.
“These boys are excited to head to Waco, TX and start their hopeful journey to the Little League World Series in Williamsport, PA,” stated Dodds in a post-game email.
The TRLL 12U team kicks off regional play against Oklahoma at 4 p.m. Aug. 4 at Marvin Norcross Stadium in Waco. They will play on the Longhorn Network and could be televised on ESPN if they reach the semifinals, according to Dodds.
The “faithful support of the Steadman Clinic” has been crucial to the growth of Little League in Eagle County, Dodds noted.
“Without their sponsorship our local league does not happen,” he stated. With four teams making formidable trips in the coming weeks, TRLL is hopeful for community support in raising additional funds to help with travel.
In the 14U championship game, the Three Rivers juniors defeated Academy 16-0 on Monday.
Four pitchers combined to throw a shutout, with Christopher Hays starting, Elijah Kelley taking the win and Lucas Mile and Hans Wittenberg helping close things out from the bullpen.
Three Rivers racked up 13 hits on the day, with Jack Reed and James Bivins each racking up two hits apiece. Bivins also had four stole bases and his team didn’t commit a single error in the field.
“I am so proud of our team. Tonight’s game was flawless in all aspects of the game,” commented manager August Wittenberg.
“These boys are so supportive of each other, so selfless. Though some kids might be better than others, each kid was a significant contributor to this team accomplishment. And most important, they have so much fun together, and me and the other coaches love coaching them.”