By Adam Dunivan
ARVADA, Colo. -- Jay Russell's Factory 16U Gold has been a factory of wins at the 2019 Colorado Sparkler. Just three more victories, and they can call themselves champions.
The San Diego-based team with Florida Gators-inspired threads have overcome a tough start to the tournament and will be riding a five-game win streak to Sunday's Mt. Elbert Championship Bracket play after beating the So Cal Choppers VC by a 6-2 count at the Lutz Fields in Arvada. A four-run fourth inning was more than enough as pitcher Auriel Yeager kept the Choppers bats from getting anything solid.
"For the most part, clutch hitting and awesome pitching ... our pitcher Auriel stepped up and has been pitching lights-out every single game," said Russell, whose team is stacked with mostly rising seniors. "We're on fire right now and really just performing to our potential."
Yeager was calm and collected in the circle, cutting corners in brilliant fashion as she held the Choppers to single runs in the second and fifth innings, both runs coming with two outs on the board.
Meanwhile, a two-run first inning for Factory Gold proved to be an efficient start, and Jacquie Clark's two-run single as part of that four-run fourth capped off the scoring for the win. Also in the fourth inning, Jessica Moore's sacrifice bunt attempt was misplayed for another run and the team also utilized a double-steal to nab another one.
Clark said that playing with the lead was huge, and that adding insurance runs was vital as well to getting The Factory past yet another really tough team.
"It felt really good getting those runs in, knowing we had those insurance runs and being able to go back out onto the field and just knowing we only needed to get those three outs and then it was done," Clark said.
The Factory's defense was off-and-on, but they did turn a couple of double plays including one in the sixth inning that seemed to seal So Cal's fate.
They'll resume play at 8 a.m. on Sunday as one of eight teams vying for that ultimate prize.
"It's pretty special to be part of that championship bracket, because there's, what, 1,000 teams here?" Russell said. "Now hopefully we can just close the deal."