Bulldog 10-and-under eighth at state
After an unbeaten run in tournament pool play at the USSSA 10-and-under AA State Championship, the Baldwin Bulldogs fell in single-elimination tourney play to finish eighth Saturday.
"After the loss, it was really hard to explain to the boys what they had just accomplished," said coach Rob Cleavinger. "Eleven boys from Baldwin City, Kansas, in their first year of tournament baseball just finished in the top 10 of the state championship.
"It was truly a team effort with contributions from all 11 players," said Cleavinger. "We asked the boys to be proud and walk out with their heads held high because they gave everything they had."
The Bulldogs fell 10-5 to the Blue Valley Braves to wrap up the tournament with a 3-1 record and the eighth-place finish. The Bulldogs had quite the run during pool play to be one of the 12 teams out of the 24-team field to advance.
Baldwin opened play Thursday by winning a rain-shortened 5-2 game against the Lenexa Astros. Hunter Burkhart threw three innings with three strikeouts. Landon Hay started the offense in the first with a two-run triple. Brian Wright had two hits and scored two runs.
Next up for the Bulldogs were the Heartland Raiders, a team that had previously beaten Baldwin 16-7 in the qualifying tournament. But, this time the result was different.
"However, with stellar defense and a strong pitching performance by Clayton Duncan, the Bulldogs outplayed the Raiders in a 4-0 win," he said.
Duncan threw a complete six-inning shutout with five strikeouts, no walks and only three hits. Wright made several strong defensive plays and Tucker Brown ended the game with a long running catch in left field to leave runners on second and third and preserving the shutout.
"Suddenly, the Bulldogs were 2-0 and people were beginning to ask where this team was from," said Cleavinger. "Several coaches, umpires and parents were asking questions about our team and complimenting our play. Not only were the Bulldogs almost assured a spot in the bracket play on Saturday, but with a shutout win, the Bulldogs would be in a tied for the No. 1 seed."
That didn't quite happen. Baldwin beat the Wichita Seminoles 14-3. Wright pitched four innings and had five strikeouts. Garrett Cleavinger had three hits and scored three runs.
Baldwin had a 3-0 record and had allowed only five runs in those victories. Through a series of tie breakers, that landed the Bulldogs the No. 4 seed heading into the single-elimination bracket play.
"We were really proud of the boys," he said. "This was the first time all year that hey had put three good games together, and what a time to do it -- at the Kansas State Tournament."
That's also where the string ended, as Blue Valley, a team that had also beaten Baldwin in the qualifying tournament, came up with the 10-5.