Ulises Silva, 13, throws the baseball Thursday during a Moffat County Cutthroats practice. The Cutthroats are playing at the Triple Crown Baseball Colorado State Championships today and Saturday. Silva, an outfielder and team captain, says they are hoping to “bring home a plaque and some medals.”

Photo by Nate Waggenspack

Ulises Silva, 13, throws the baseball Thursday during a Moffat County Cutthroats practice. The Cutthroats are playing at the Triple Crown Baseball Colorado State Championships today and Saturday. Silva, an outfielder and team captain, says they are hoping to “bring home a plaque and some medals.”

Triple Crown baseball team begins tournament play today

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Trenton Hillewaert, 12, throws at the beginning of a team practice Thursday for the Moffat County Cutthroats. The Cutthroats left Thursday for Longmont, where they will play in the Triple Crown Baseball Colorado State Championships in the 12-year-old division.

Quotable

“(Coach) has been working us a lot and we’ve been practicing a lot. We’ve all become better hitters, better fielders, all that. We can play with anybody.”

—Trenton Hillewaert, 12, about the Moffat County Cutthroats improvement

At a glance ...

Moffat County Cutthroats schedule at the 2012 Triple Crown Colorado State Championships

Friday

1 p.m. vs. Storm Baseball

5:15 p.m. vs. Colorado Double Angels Red

Saturday

1 p.m. vs. Chatfield Chargers

5:15 p.m. vs. Colorado Raptors

The Moffat County Cutthroats baseball team is heading to its biggest tournament of the year.

The rag-tag group of baseball players, used to playing against older teams with more experience, will be up against some of the best teams Colorado has to offer this weekend at the Triple Crown Baseball Colorado State Championships.

The tournament begins today for the Cutthroats, who will play in the 25-team 12u Division 2 bracket. They will play at 1 and 5:15 p.m. Friday and Saturday at Clark Centennial Park in Longmont.

The Cutthroats are composed of players from ages eight to 12 and have only played in one tournament this year. Most other teams, according to coach Mark Nielsen, have played around 50 games and been practicing together for years.

If that weren’t enough disadvantage for the team, the Cutthroats will be playing in a group where three of their four opponents have qualified for the Triple Crown World Series, meaning they have placed in the top four in a previous Triple Crown tournament.

“That’s outstanding on their part, a bit of a bummer on our part,” Nielsen said. “But that doesn’t matter, the kids knew that last tournament they could have gone 3-1 with all the runners we left on, so they’re coming in excited. One of them already mentioned that we’re coming home with the trophy.”

The positive outlook is something Nielsen says he loves about his players, who he says always play hard and support each other well.

“It’s all about teamwork for us. To me these guys really work together and understand its not just going to be the older boys who win it, it’s going to be the younger boys contributing as well,” he said. “That’s why I say I’ve got the best team in Colorado.”

After going 1-3 but losing two games by slim margins June 29-30 at the Steamboat Mountain Magic Tournament, the Cutthroats have been focusing on their weaknesses from those games in practice.

The practice in between tournaments, accompanied with getting first-tournament jitters out of the way, has Moffat County players confident.

“I’ve seen my team play. I’ve seen them bat and play and we’re doing really good,” said Ulises Silva, 13, an outfielder for the team.

Another team member, 12-year-old Trenton Hillewaert, believes the team is ready to be competitive with any team because of the hard work they have put in during practice.

“(Coach) has been working us a lot and we’ve been practicing a lot,” Hillewaert said. “We’ve all become better hitters, better fielders, all that. We can play with anybody.”

Despite the tough competition, Nielsen is not worried about his players getting discouraged.

“If and when we lose, these boys don’t have their heads down,” he said. “I’ve coached teams where they get behind by three runs and put their heads down, so they would lose by 15 runs.

“These boys just don’t do that. They know they were right there (at the last tournament).”

His coach may think the other teams will tough, but Silva isn’t planning on spending much time behind at the tournament.

“In the last tournament, we did pretty good for our first tournament. I didn’t think we were going to play that good, especially with guys that young,” he said. “This tournament, we’re hoping to come home with a plaque and some medals.”

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