After cruising to victory in their first two All-Star tournaments, the 9U Toros played in their first travel ball tournament at the Grand Slam North Georgia State Championship. Numerous veterans of the travel circuit conditioned the boys on the high quality of competition they’d be facing, and that they would need to play their best just to be competitive.
The Toros responded by playing their best baseball of the summer. However, the path to the title met an immediate speed bump from the Grayson Rams, who handed the Toros an 8-2 defeat to open pool play.
Inspired by the Rams aggression and motivated to earn a spot in the Gold bracket, the Toros took no prisoners in their second pool game, defeating the Woodstock Fury Black by a score of 19-0. The offense exploded for 10 runs in the first and 9 in the second, batting around in both innings. All 12 Toros scored at least one run in the game, while the pitchers held Woodstock to only two hits en route to a three inning run-rule victory.
The Toros emerged from pool play as the 7 seed, earning a spot in the Gold bracket but with a quarterfinal match-up against the 2-seed Winder Lions. The Lions are a seasoned travel squad who brought their A game on Sunday, forcing the Toros to dig deep in order to preserve an early lead. The Lions fought through six tough innings, but the Toros prevailed with a 9-7 victory.
As fate would have it, the Toros semifinal opponent was the same Grayson Rams team that had beaten them to open the weekend. With only 15 minutes between games, the coaches delivered an inspired pregame message to the boys, which manifested itself in a six run first inning. Those six runs would be all the Toros needed, as they emerged 13-4 victors in the Grayson rematch.
The waiting game then began, with the Toros taking a four hour break before the championship game. At least one Toros dad was rumored to have fallen asleep in the parking lot during the break, while other parents commandeered Coach Young’s speaker to listen to songs they actually recognized. Meanwhile, the team took the delay in stride, siblings tested the limits of the Lilburn Lions Park playground and Toros grandparents across the country freaked out about the lack of new activity on Game Changer.
Game time finally arrived shortly after 6:30 on Sunday, with yet another high quality opponent in the Sequoyah Jr. Chiefs. The Chiefs were the only remaining team in the tournament with a perfect record, having beaten the #1 seed Dacula Falcons in the semifinal to move to 4-0.
That perfect record wouldn’t last long, with the hot hitting Toros putting up three runs in the first and cooling off the Chiefs bats with an absolutely dominant pitching performance. The Toros never let off the gas on their way to a 13-3 victory, earning an impressive addition to the NYO trophy collection.
Congrats to the players and to coaches Jody Young, Jeff Taylor and Todd Page on the victory. Congrats as well to Coach Josh Wolf, whose instruction helped the Toros pitchers overwhelm opposing batters throughout the weekend.
Front Row (L-R): Harris Young, Cade McKenzie, Grant Taylor, Landen Klopp, Hudson Tittle, Lane Taylor
Second Row (L-R): Ty Page, Quinn Herring, Thomas Strang, Quill Howell, Jeremy Wolf, Case Martin
Back Row (L-R): Jeff Taylor, Jody Young, Todd Page