Refusing to take a blind eye to omnipresent public reports of the impending death of traditional journalism, following this long form recap of Week 3 of the NYO 12U Longhorns summerball season is a special, made for the millennial (and younger) reader summary of events. The hope is that increased readership across generations will avoid having to take the publication behind a pay wall.
Week 3 dawned early for the NYO 12U Longhorns, who brought back to Canton, GA the Thursday night giddiness normally reserved for the most senior of GDOT engineers who have made it their lives’ work understanding the intricate nuances of the intersection of 75N and 575N. Excitement did permeate the air, however, as the team and coaches learned that there was no likelihood of facing the Alpharetta Red Raiders for what would have seemed like the 19th time this summer. Instead staring the Longhorns in the face was a tournament-kick-off pool play matchup against the Fannin County All Stars. After a quick “Hey [INSERT YOUR FAVORITE AI VOICE ASSISTANT NAME HERE], where is Fannin County” search by the erstwhile Longhorns coaches, the staff was left with the daunting decision making process of how to prepare for a team with seemingly no digital profile, which made the typical hours spent doing advance scouting work impossible. Head Coach Brad Glenn, unstoppable Top Lieutenant Michael Thorne, and the “with the team in spirit but having more fun with adults” efforts of other Top Lieutenant Lee Caswell, along with the input of this week’s special guest assistants, brought to bear secret weapons and decision making processes that topped them all.
Hard-hitting Brooks Beach was unwrapped to make his season debut on the mound and, with an assist from Ayden Long in the late stages, threw a no-hit gem against the FCAS. The theme of “pitching ain’t easy” gets a respite with what’s become a regular go-to theme of “let them put in in play near Logan Lutz”, who was locking the middle infield down all weekend (foreshadowing alert……). The ‘Horns brought their bats as well, beating up the left side of the field regularly and getting contributions from everywhere in the lineup, including Justin (wearing out the computer keyboard as I type this same thing every week) Early going 3-3, multi-hit games from Alex Berry, Emma Simon and Elliot Stewart, and Brooks and fellow Killer B (note the first “WWF” reference) Brayden Bassett doing their best to knock down the outfield fences. After the Thursday W and notwithstanding the protestations of the wise and experienced (old) coaching staff, the young ‘Horns may have gotten a wee bit too complacent.
As any road-weary traveler would certainly advise, you’ve got to watch out for the potholes, as the trip from ITP to Canton isn’t always on smooth asphalt. Saturday’s tilt against the host-team Canton Stingers, fresh off a title the prior week in (where else) Canton, albeit at a different park, left the Longhorns licking their wounds after an ugly “L.” Canton’s combination of junk balling hurlers and solid defense kept the Longhorns flat footed all day. While there wasn’t much for Longhorn nation to enjoy of the Saturday contest, HC Brad Glenn commented after the weekend was over “Perhaps I underestimated the Jedi-nature of this team. While we didn’t bring the best effort on Saturday, in retrospect I think the kids may have become so smart, and have such foresight, that they set us up to not have the earliest game of the day Sunday, ensuring a bit of extra sleep, but also putting us in position to play an extra Sunday game given the love of baseball.”
At the time, the Longhorns plan hadn’t quite become so clear. And as Sunday morning arrived, the Coaching Staff was looking to reprise its prior week magic, work out the Saturday cobwebs and set the team up for another deep run. Triple H (another WWF, although in the WWE era, reference) was in the house in the form of heat, humidity, and crazy hard fields thanks to the grounds crew’s efforts to keep them swept, when even Carl Spackler knew they needed watering. Undaunted, Brayden Bassett took the mound and twirled a gem, keeping the Longhorns in the game while the bats slowly awoke. Brayden’s 5 IP, 1 earned run performance, digging deep when the game was on the line, was critical to keeping the Horns alive and kicking. The offense was just enough “early” on, with Justin Of the Same Last Name doing what he does (see above) and Elliot Stewart scaring baseballs of getting near his bat and contributing two hits. As the Longhorns battled into extra innings, the “one team; everybody contributes to a win” mentality preached from Day 1 by the second-to-none really took hold. Key hits came off the bats of [I will not type Justin’s name here again!], Aiden Berry, Matias Raponi and Noah Glenn. The offensive explosion was more than enough for new-starter-and-closer Brooks Beach to lock down a win, and propel the Longhorns into the semifinals.
Fresh off some rest and refueling thanks primarily to Sheri Bassett, the Longhorns jumped out to a big first inning lead over the higher-seeded Sandy Plains “Our Moms Were Not at Johnny’s Last Night” Cougars. Those six first inning runs, coming off of hits by the Brothers Berry and Logan Lutz, among others, chased the Cougars starter (in this case, a “cougar starter” was NOT a white wine spritzer) and were more than enough for Emma Simon, who, after being on the wrong end of an attempted dodgeball-style putout throw to her neck, offered the ‘Horns a brilliant, 2 earned run complete game performance backed by some spectacular defense early and late – including a Brooks Beach started, rally killing double play, and a last inning sliding, backhanded catch by centerfielder Noah Glenn – who himself had overcome a battle with a nasty bee. Glenn’s battle with the bee itself foreshadowed a finals rematch with the Canton Stingers – like Glenn, the Longhorns would not succumb to a little sting from Canton!
It wasn’t all roses and chocolates dancing in the finals, however. The Triple H (see above) had already brought the semifinals’ home-plate umpire down in a submission, but the Longhorns wanted to show their toughness to the home crowd and the perhaps, although unconfirmed, new home-leaning umpire – who happened to be on a first-name basis with the home team [I’m just saying….]. Early on, the Longhorns looked like an SUV that’s made 9 trips to Canton in the last 3 weeks – out of gas. Chalk it up to bad attitudes from plummeting blood sugar levels combined with the demoralization of a few kids getting rung up by a nasty breaking ball out of the hands of the Stingers’ starter (thank you Michael Raponi!). But Alex Berry put the team on his shoulders, slinging a 6 inning CG masterpiece on the mound, and keeping it close in the early going, helped by a big caught stealing throw from Ayden Long to shut down an early rally. Once again, the Longhorns bought in to the coaching philosophy, ate some simple sugars and began picking each other up when one was down. Ayden turned defense into offense, getting on base an inning later to later get chased home by a triple off the bat of Emma Simon, and the tide had turned. From there it was all Longhorns on both sides of the ball, with key, timely hits by Aiden Berry, Brayden Bassett and Elliot Stewart, along with big hits and defensive putouts by Noah Glenn – who by now had started eating bees to show his toughness, and two last inning putouts by Logan Lutz to seal the championship.
Coach Glenn and the staff gave rousing post-game speeches, but all eyes and ears were on Michael Thorne, who was gloating over the fact that AC Caswell couldn’t be in attendance, and was already planning a full week of Stanly Cup style celebration with the trophy. We’ll update when more is known about where he’ll throw out the ceremonial first pitch.
TL;DR, NYO 12U Longhorns win the Gold Division title at the Cherokee Open; Assistant Coach goes full Ovechkin.