By Lary Bump
Fundamentals and strong relief pitching carried Dulins Dodgers TX-Maes to a season-opening two wins Saturday.
That was good timing, because it put the Dodgers into the Platinum Bracket of the Texas Season Opener 13u D1 tournament.
“We’re dusting the rust off,” Dodgers coach Mike Maes said. “We didn’t play any fall ball. This was a good start.
“We play a lot of small ball. These kids, I’ve had five of them from 7u, 8u, 9u, so they’ve been with me a long time.”
Using that small-ball approach, Dulins Dodgers won 5-3 decisions at the Railroad Park Yellow diamond over Dallas Mustangs-Martin and NTXBC Dirtbags-Woods from Southlake, Texas.
The Dodgers, representing McKinney, won’t have an easy road to win the bracket Sunday. They’re seeded eighth and will have to play No. 9 USA Prime 13u Torres from neighboring Melissa.
Win that one, and the Dodgers would meet top-seeded Academy Select-Ingram from Plano. Without a first-round bye, Dulins Dodgers would need to win four games to take the double-elimination championship.
Against the Dirtbags, it didn’t appear early on that the Dodgers would be one of the eight teams winning two games on Saturday. The McKinney squad left the bases loaded in the top of the first inning, and the Dirtbags scored three runs in the bottom of the inning.
“We don’t like to get down because we know that always leads to bad body language,” second baseman Jake Lyons said. “We just kind of keep our heads up. Something good’s going to happen when we hit the ball, and we were able to rally.”
Sure enough, still trailing 3-0 in the third, the Dodgers used four hits, including a double by third baseman Roman Robinson, to score three runs.
That’s when Maes went full-on small ball. Diego Reyes bunted in front of the plate and beat the throw to first base for a hit.
“That kid is the fastest kid on our team,” Maes said.
Reyes then stole second base, and Lyons came up with instructions to bunt the runner to third. His effort accomplished more than that. He bunted down the first base line and the Dirtbags pitcher threw wildly, allowing Lyons to reach second base and Reyes to score for a 4-3 lead.
“In a crucial position in the game, I was trying to help the team out,” Lyons said, “at least move the runner so we could knock something in. I wanted to lay something so I could get to first and maybe get a bad throw out of the pitcher, which we did.
“We feel like we’re very polished.”
Lyons held second base on a single off the shortstop’s glove, then scored himself when the Dirtbags made another wild throw on an attempted double-play relay.
The Southlake team didn’t have a chance to tie the game. The Dodgers’ No. 5, Drew “Cinco” Hanstad, struck out all three batters he faced in the third inning. In the fourth, Robinson struck out the first two Dirtbags and got the final out on a grounder to shortstop Dylan Terry, who also contributed a double and a single.