Despite an early loss in the 8-10 boys baseball district tournament the first weekend of July in Grand Junction, the Three Rivers Little League boys’ baseball team showed a ton of resilience.
The team battled back to get out of the loser’s bracket and claim the tournament championship to advance to the state championship next weekend.
Thanks to the district championship win, Three Rivers Little League will host the state tournament July 19 – 22 at Crown Mountain Park in El Jebel, giving the valley a boost in local youth baseball exposure for the weekend.
Opening up the district tournament in Grand Junction on June 25, the Three Rivers Little League All-Star team picked up a 16-14 win over Colorado River Valley Little League, thanks to a walk-off grand slam to advance to the next round of the bracket.
There, Three Rivers then picked up a 13-2 win over Grand Mesa to advance to the third round before the all-star team dropped a tough 19-13 decision to Monument, pushing Three Rivers to the loser’s bracket.
In the loser’s bracket, Three Rivers showed a lot of heart and resilience, according to head coach Tom Dion, as the boys won its bracket matchup with Fruita Monument, 12-11. A walk-off steal punched Three Rivers’ ticket to the District 1 championship for a rematch with Monument.
“Every single kid on the team has heart,” Dion said. “They just fought and fought. We were down in the game against Fruita and had to fight again; the kids on this team just showed so much heart to get out of the loser’s bracket.”
After getting out of the loser’s bracket for the championship rematch against Monument, Three Rivers needed to beat Monument twice to claim the championship.
The boys did just that, grabbing a 19-15 win over Monument in the first game thanks to a 12-run fourth inning, before winning the tournament on July 1 with a 17-12 decision, setting off a huge celebration for players, coaches and fans.
“It was surreal,” Dion said. “The team, going into the first championship game knowing we had to beat them twice, fought hard and got through it.”
Dion said the team was definitely nervous heading into the first matchup in the championship round, but once the game started the confidence was there.
“Then, when we won, the team went crazy,” he said. “It’s the first time this age group for Three Rivers has won the district championship, so it’s pretty special.”
Turning their attention to the championship tournament, Three Rivers returns to action at 5:30 p.m. July 19 at Crown Mountain Park.
“We obviously want to win the whole thing, but I just want the kids to take the experience away from this opportunity,” Dion said. “Most of them probably won’t have this again in their lives, so I just want them to enjoy the moment and take it all in.”
The Three Rivers Little League All-Star team is made up of players from Edwards, Eagle, Gypsum, Glenwood Springs, Carbondale and Aspen, who played in the regular season in either Minors or Major-Minors for the TRLL.
Team members include: Cain Courtney, Chase Fenton, Ricardo Gutierrez-Juardo, Aiden Justice, Quintin Lovato, Evan Neuman, Tavin Shreeve, Diezl Dion, Clayton Fulk, Brayden Hughes, Kenyon Lovato, Mason McCormick, Gabriel Ortega, and Ryder Strablisky.
In addition to head coach Dion, assistant coaches are Jason Neuman and Chris McCormick.