By Adam Dunivan
ARVADA, Colo -- With Saturday's accelerated play at the 16U Colorado Sparkler, and with elusive spots in the Sunday championship bracket on the line, the margin for error was quite small for the 16U Originals Threat in its Mt. Elbert Bracket A winner's game at Lutz Field.
And fortunately for head coach Kevin Murphy, his team had his back in the third inning of what turned out to be just a four-inning game against the Salt Lake Vision. A lineup card issue was brought up right at the beginning of that momentum-swinging frame, but the Originals didn't let that rattle them in a five-run inning that eventually led to a 7-4 win.
"Even I can be a little dumb sometimes," Murphy told his team after.
Honest mistake, coach. And in reality, the Originals made enough plays, capitalized on some Vision mistakes and got good enough pitching from the get-go to emerge victorious.
"We took advantage of some mistakes, and really they were the ones on their game," Murphy later said of his girls. "They played well. They hit well and they took advantage of the errors. Everybody has been playing well and I couldn't be more proud of this group."
It was the sixth straight win for the Kansas City, Missouri-based organization and now they find themselves in the eight-team Sparkler Mt. Elbert Championship Bracket. That begins Sunday morning at 8 a.m. MDT, with the championship game set for 2 p.m.
Not bad for a team that had only two pitchers to start and are now down to just one -- Antonia Muniz.
"With the one pitcher, it's lit a fire in us a little bit because we want to help her as much as we can," said teammate Hadley Uribe, who smacked base hits in all three of her at-bats. "On defense, we don't want to make any errors because we want to do this for her. We all love each other and we're all really best friends and we just want to play for each other."
The O's threatened to get some runs from the start by loading the bases in the top of the first inning, but didn't strike until that third inning after spotting the Vision two runs. Uribe drove in a run with her second hit of the game, but an error got two more runs home to make it 3-2. Irelynn West and Kinlei Boley each drove home runs with base hits, as well, to make it 5-2.
The Vision got back in it with a run in the bottom of the third when Taylor Weber got a two-out, bases-loaded base knock but the O's defense helped keep that to just the one run and then Muniz got a strikeout to get out of the jam.
In the fourth, it was speed again that led to more O's runs. Rylie Boyer beat out a sacrifice bunt attempt after a pitching change, and her base hit gave way to another Uribe hit to right field. A throwing error then allowed Boyer to cross the plate with ease.
"Making sure we were playing aware and just looking for extra bases and not just settling for what we think we're going to get," Uribe said. "Looking for the next thing."
The Vision didn't give up, scratching across a run and getting the tying run to home plate before the game ended with a fly ball out to left field.