Even-handed approach sends Dulins Dodgers to 14u Invite title at Texas Season Opener
By Lary Bump
GRAPEVINE, Texas – Right-hander Ian Garza was the losing pitcher for Dulins Dodgers Prime (Godwin) when Dallas Texans-Nalley rallied to stay alive in the Texas Season Opener 14u D1 Invite.
With the championship on the line Sunday at the Texas Season Opener, left-hander Ian Garza came out of the bullpen to save the Dodgers’ 3-0 shutout of the Texans.
As a parent in the stands said, “same pitcher, different arm.”
Garza, you see, is ambidextrous.
“I’ve always been able to do it,” he said. “I’ve thrown more right (handed) over time, but I’ve been getting more left. I threw the same pitches with both, and I’m as comfortable with each.
“As a kid, my dad just assumed I’d be a righty. I would just do things lefty because I was natural-born lefty and now I just throw with both.”
Chris Godwin owns the Dulins Dodgers program at Diamond Kings Baseball Academy in McKinney, TX. It is affiliated with the Performance Sports Institute in Memphis, founded by former minor league infielder Tim Dulin. Growing up there, Godwin played for the original Dulins Dodgers. He later was a catcher in summer college baseball in the Northwoods League.
“(Garza’s) very special,” Godwin said. “His poise on both sides is fantastic. But with that, there’s extra work. Now he has to get bullpens from both sides.”
What Garza doesn’t get are separate innings limits from the left and right sides. His total from the two sides combined can’t exceed the innings limits of right- or left-handed-only pitchers.
“There’s a little strategy from the coach’s side for managing that process,” Godwin said.
Sunday's drama began with the 3:00 14u Elite title game between the Dodgers and the Texans; the Texans won, 4-3, to force the "if" game in the double elimination format. Coming off that one-run, complete-game loss, Garza started the 5:00 final in left field. In the third inning, he tripled home the first run and scored the second of the three that proved to be the game’s only runs.
Winning pitcher Matthew Mainord pitched five scoreless innings, allowing five hits. Garza then retired six of the seven batters he faced.
The Dodgers are likely to be traveling this summer.
“We’ll go all over the country,” Godwin said. “If they continue to progress, we’ll continue to put them in the right events. As crazy as it sounds, some of these guys will have an opportunity to start the college recruiting process.”
Dallas Texans-Nalley spent most of Sunday at windswept Oak Grove Park Field H on the shore of Grapevine Lake fighting their way back after Dulins Dodgers handed Nalley its first loss, 3-1, in the 11:00 a.m. opener.
In the losers’ bracket final, the Texans trailed Texas Stix 2024-Boughton 7-1, and then 9-4 after 3½ innings. They scored twice in the sixth but still trailed 9-6 in the time-limited last inning, the bottom of the fifth.
Caleb Watkins tripled home two runs and scored the tying run on a single by Jack Sharp. With one out and the bases loaded. Zach Pearrow dribbled a slow roller down the third base line, and Sharp took home a 10-9 win when the ball couldn’t be handled.
Dulins Dodgers appeared to need only one game to take the title when they scored three runs in the first inning and put their first two batters on base in the second. Cameron Randall relieved starting pitcher Pearrow and pitched 5 2/3 scoreless innings.
In the meantime, the Texans scored two runs in the third inning and another in the fourth before taking a 4-3 lead on Matt Millett’s fifth-inning sacrifice fly.
It wasn’t over yet. The Dodgers loaded the bases with two out in the bottom of the seventh. Then Kendyl Johnson got a 2-0 count from Randall. Layton Nalley relieved Randall and threw his first pitch high and way wide of the plate. He settled down to get two called strikes. On the 3-2 pitch, Johnson lifted a fly ball to left field that Watkins caught to set up the winner-take-all "if" game.
The Dulins Dodgers-Godwin 12u D1 team also won a championship, defeating Dallas Tigers Reynolds, 8-4.
“I coach both teams,” Godwin said. “Unfortunately, I can’t be at two places at one time, but we’ve got a great staff. We’ve always got another good pair of hands.”