MARIETTA, Ga. — Dulins Dodgers Prime advanced to the third playoff round in this year’s edition of the 16u WWBA National Championship after a commanding 10-3 win over fellow heavyweights, the Cincinnati Spikes on Tuesday afternoon at the TOP Chops East Cobb Baseball Complex. In the win, the Dodgers allowed only their fourth total run of the tournament, a trend that in part earned them top-seed honors entering play on the day.
Both offensive capabilities and pitching promise were on display for a team that extended their already-impressive tournament resume, one which boasts a +45 run differential through six games.
Arkansas commit Barrett Kent started for the Dodgers and was one out removed from posting a two-run, complete game (games at this point in the tournament were shortened to five innings due to weather-related restrictions). Kent added four strikeouts and only one earned run in an outing where he flashed a heavy 91 mph fastball and 79 mph breaking ball.
“I love it, I love the competition, and I love being ready to pitch against the better teams,” said Kent. “It just starts mentally every night before I go to bed, and then I’m good to go. We just need to throw strikes. Strikes get outs; it’s as simple as that.”
Kent’s outing was supplemented by an overpowering offensive emergence that began with the Dulins’ first batter of the game. In the bottom of the first, leadoff hitter Aidan Smith drew an eight-pitch walk, and was immediately followed by Dakota Howard, who himself worked a free pass to first. Kyler Proctor reached as the third straight batter on a single to left.
Smith scored on a subsequent sacrifice fly from Andy Neal, and Howard crossed home after a fielding error at shortstop. Although only two runs, the early action brought seven batters to the plate and set the table for what would be a big day in the box for the Texas-based squad.
“We started with some timely hits, and it has kind of just grown into pretty much every person going up there with confidence,” said Smith. “We keep thinking that we’re going do damage, and we are doing damage. We’re scoring in bunches right now, and we need to keep it up.”
The Dodgers added to the deficit in the second with another crooked number. Three walks, one single and a Howard double plated another four runs and chased the Spikes’ second pitcher of the game. After just six outs and 50 minutes of game time, Dulins assumed a 6-1 lead.
“Most of these pitchers work away, so a lot of us are looking for fastballs away, and if he throws it in, I’ll just use my quick hands and get inside the baseball,” said Proctor. “We just have to maintain the timely hitting and strikes from our pitchers. If we keep playing as a team, we’ll be able to get it done”
An identical four-spot in the bottom of the third inning, courtesy of two doubles from Kent and Smith, made the lead insurmountable for Cincinnati, despite a two-run top of the fifth. The eventual 10-3 victory marked the team’s latest feat in a tournament where the Dodgers have beat their opponents by an average of 7.5 runs. And with their lineup, it’s easy to see why.
Dulins rosters three of the country’s top-300 players in Lane Allen (ranked 265th), Andrew Daniels (ranked 172nd) and Proctor (ranked 275th). A further three are among the nation’s top-500, and two more are designated ‘high follows.’