AURORA, Colo. – It was a week to be proud of for Head Coach Dave Mercado and the Athletics Mercado 18u Gold team, who went 10-0 on their way to back-to-back Colorado 4th of July 18u Power Pool titles.
After winning the 18u TV Power Pool Championship earlier in the week, Athletics Mercado completed the perfect week with a 7-6 victory over Stryker National Esparza in the 18u Power Pool National Championship.
“I’m proud of them,” Mercado said. “It’s been an up and down battle for us through the season, and we are starting to heat up at the right time which is the name of the game. I couldn’t be more proud of them.”
Stryker National Esparza struck first in the contest, scoring a run in the top of the first inning off Athletics Mercado’s ace pitcher, Cambria Salmon. After that, Salmon settled down and was nearly unhittable from the second through sixth innings. Athletics Mercado took advantage of Salmon’s pitching and took the lead in the bottom of the second inning when Makenzie Butt launched a solo home run to deep center field followed by Alexa Rosales doing the same just a couple of batters later.
In the bottom of the fourth inning, Butt once again found the distance with a solo home run to left field to extend the lead to 3-1, where the score remained until the sixth inning. With three runners on base, Rosales stepped up to the plate and delivered the game-winning grand slam to give Athletics Mercado a 7-1 lead heading into the final inning.
“Up and down, even our slappers have power, but those two (Butt and Rosales) have been very consistent for us,” Mercado said. “It’s been good, they’ve been coming up big.”
The grand slam proved to be more than just insurance runs as Stryker National found their groove once again in the top of the seventh inning and relied on some timely hitting, as well as some defensive miscues from Athletics Mercado, to get back into the game at 7-6. With the tying runner on second base, however, Salmon slammed the door shut on the comeback with a strikeout to secure the title for Athletics Mercado.