Three Rivers All-Stars capture state championship |

Three Rivers All-Stars capture state championship

After coming so close the past few years in the junior Little League all-star tournaments, the Three Rivers Little League all-stars finally got over the hump this summer, capturing their first state title with a 10-2 win Tuesday over Sherrelwood, sending them to the Regional Championships in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Following a dominant run in the district tournament in Grand Junction, Three Rivers got the chance to host the state tournament and didn’t drop a game in the double-elimination event on their way to that elusive state championship for 13- to 14-year-olds.

“Especially for a handful of these kids —Sam [Fitzwilliams], Rio [Kauffman], Jake [Ticer], Jack [Pevny] and Joey [Beveridge] — this was their fourth trip to the state tournament,” Three Rivers head coach Scott Fitzwilliams said. “We’ve taken second twice, so I knew with these kids that they’re going to win one of these. I feel really good [about this championship], but I’m also feeling realistic. We have our work cut out for us in New Mexico, playing teams from Louisiana, Texas and Mississippi. Those are kids that play baseball 12 months a year. We’re going to go down there and our goal is to compete. But this feels so good.”

In the impressive state championship win, Three Rivers started out slow at the plate before exploding for three runs in the third and fourth innings to take a commanding 6-0 lead as Sam Fitzwilliams shut down Sherrelwood on the mound. Pitching for the first time in nearly three weeks in a live game, the young starter worked through four clean innings on the big stage, helping to lead his team to victory, allowing just two hits.

Dylan Albright came in to relieve Sam Fitzwilliams in the fifth inning and closed the door, setting off a celebration on the infield after the final out was recorded.

With great pitching leading the way, the pressure was taken off of the high-scoring Three Rivers offense, allowing it to find its footing in the middle innings on the way to the 10-2 win.

Garrett Anderson led off the top of the third inning for Three Rivers, reaching first on a passed ball on a swinging strike three. From there, the “Deer” — as his coaches and teammates call him — wreaked havoc on the base paths, swiping second with ease and then advancing to third on the errant throw down to second.

Two batters later Kauffman drove home Anderson with a line-drive single into left field to make it 1-0.

Much like Anderson, Kauffman then stole second base before then advancing to third on a single by Sam Fitzwilliams.

The pair later scored on a two-run single by Kaid Nieslanik to make it 3-0 after three innings of play.

In the top of the fourth inning, Three Rivers would add three more runs as Pevny singled to left before moving up to second on a balk by the Sherrelwood pitcher. Anderson followed up two batters later with a single to right to make it 4-0 before the ball started to get tossed around the yard by Sherrelwood.

With Anderson’s speed on the base paths, he moved up to second on the throw home before then going to third on the throw down to second.

A Sherrelwood infielder then made the mistake of throwing to third, allowing Anderson to scamper home on a little league home run to make it 5-0 Three Rivers.

“We set out early this summer to be aggressive on the base paths,” Coach Fitzwilliams said. “We have a bunch of fast, smart base runners, and we wanted to apply pressure to the other team by running as much as possible and being aggressive. It worked out for us.”

Following Anderson’s jaunt around the bases, Beveridge reached on an error by the Sherrelwood shortstop before later scoring on a single by Kauffman to make it 6-0.

In the fifth inning Sam Fitzwilliams and Ticer exchanged doubles, and Pevny followed with a single to make it 8-0.

Kauffman then reached base in the sixth inning on another error by the Sherrelwood shortstop before racing home on an RBI-triple by Sam Fitzwilliams to make it 9-1. Jace Luck scored the final run for Three Rivers to seal the 10-2.

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