DCABA teams win league title
Baldwin's baseball future looks very bright, given the fact that two teams this summer walked away with the city's first-ever Douglas County Amateur Baseball Association (DCABA) titles and one of them did it with an unbeaten record.
In the 10-year-old division, the Baldwin Bulldawgs wrapped up league play by beating the Lawrence Shockers 13-1 last week to put the caps on a perfect 20-0 season. The team is coached by Todd Hoffman.
It took the final game of the season for Baldwin's 9-year-old DCABA team to win the league crown. Baldwin beat the Mustangs 5-3 to break up a three-way tie for first.
If that's not enough, Baldwin's 12-year-old DCABA team is still in the thick of the title race, too. Because of rainouts, the 12-year-olds still have games Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday to determine the regular season champion. The team was tied for first until a loss Sunday, but still stands a good chance of winning Baldwin's third DCABA crown.
All three teams squared off with the best in the prestigious Lawrence league against teams from there and Eudora. The Bulldawgs left little doubt with their dominance, too, in compiling the unbeaten record. They outscored their opponents by a whopping 332-82 run total. That's an average of a 16.6-4.1 score every time they took the field.
"We've had a pretty good year," said Hoffman. "We've got some kids that throw strikes and play good defense and that goes a long way. Here towards the end up the season they've started to swing the bats well, too."
As for that unbeaten record, it just doesn't get better than that, he said.
"No, not really," said Hoffman. "We got a great group of kids and a great bunch of parents. They always have the kids here and that makes life 10 times better."
While the Bulldawgs advanced through the league unbeaten, it was a more thrilling finish for the 9-year-old Baldwin team that was faced with a must-win situation in the season finale to win the title. And, to make matters even more exciting, it took two days to complete the last game after it was postponed by lightning June 12 with Baldwin up 3-0.
When play resumed in the bottom of the second inning, the Lawrence Mustangs scored two runs on a single hit and a walk to pull within 3-2. In the bottom of the sixth, Baldwin's' Garrett Cleavinger walked and Clayton Duncan reached on an error. After both stole a base, they each scored on wild pitches for a 5-2 lead. The Mustangs added another run, but it wasn't enough as Baldwin held on for the 5-3 league championship-clinching win.
"The final five-and-a-half innings were more intense than they were all year," said coach Rob Cleavinger.
Baldwin had a big help in the pitching department as Hunter Burkhart, Trevor Champagne and Colton Bonner combined to strike out 15 batters. The title game left the team with a 14-4 record for the season.
"We had a very good defensive team that also had the ability to put the ball in play," said Cleavinger. "We are very proud of the way these 11 kids worked together to get better each and every day. It was truly a team effort with contributions from every player.
"These kids showed a lot of courage and a will to win," he said. "They never quit competing. Three of our four losses were by two runs or less. Three of the four losses also came from the teams which placed second, third and fourth in the league."
The 9- and 10-year-old teams are currently playing in the post-season tournament. The 9-year-olds are 2-0 and played in the semifinals Tuesday night, but results weren't available by press time. The 10-year-olds lost the tourney opener Monday and also played again Tuesday night. The 12-year-old tourney won't start until the regular season is wrapped up.
"We're not out of," coach John Jackson said of his 15-5 team that will chase the Lawrence squad's 16-4 mark down the stretch. "We're in pretty good shape. The other team has three tougher games than we do. Then we play them Saturday and it will probably all be on the line then."
Baldwin's Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday games are at 6 p.m. at home. Saturday's season finale, weather permitting, is at Lawrence at 2 p.m.