Before his team's opening game in the Triple Crown 11-year-old Division 2 World Series, Colorado Cutthroats coach Mark Nielsen tried to get the players pumped up.
"I told them that this was our last week of baseball, so to go out there and play tough," he said. "Some of these teams have been playing together since February, so skill wise they're at another level."
From the first at-bat against the Cobras from Arlington, Texas, the talent discrepancy was visible in a 22-2 Cobra win.
The Texas team ran all over the base paths, scoring primarily off throwing errors by the Cutthroats in the first inning.
"I thought maybe we paid too much attention to the base runners from the mound," Nielsen said. "We were just nervous."
The Cobras put 10 runs on the board in the first inning.
But the Cutthroats showed they were capable of some run scoring, as well. They scored two runs off four hits of their own in the bottom of the first. Then in the second they earned a 1-2-3 inning on defense.
"We settled down and didn't worry about too much that inning," Nielsen said. "I thought we played good for that stretch."
The errors were fewer after the first inning for the Cutthroats, but the Cobras started to make contact in the third and fourth innings. They scored five in the seventh and seven in the fourth.
"We had two outs on them, and the bases were loaded in the fourth," Nielsen said. "They popped it up, and we missed it, and that really cost us some runs."
The Tri-County Trojans took on the KC Royals in the 14-year-old Division 2 tournament Wednesday. The Royals shut out the Trojans, 7-0.
Local teams are allowed into the World Series without qualifying, though all the other teams must finish in the top two of a qualifying tournament to make it. Most local coaches call the tournament a good experience. The children from Northwest Colorado see what it takes to perform at a higher level.
"Our kids can sometimes be afraid of the ball," Nielsen said. "You don't see that much with these other teams."
The Cutthroats are in Steam--boat Springs today to face the Lehi Tigers from Utah. That game is at 2 p.m. at Howelsen's Klumker field. The Trojans are also at Howelsen with a 2:15 p.m. game against the Utah Black Sox.