Triple crown a family affair |

Triple crown a family affair

Post Independent Photo/Kara K. Pearson (#20) of the Columbine Rebels gets tagged out at home by Three Rivers catcher, (#11)., during the Triple Crown Tournament in Glenwood Springs Saturday morning. XXX won, XVX-XN.

Families have led to the success and growth of the Triple Crown Tournament in the area.Seven years ago, Jerry Sorenson brought the annual, weekend-long youth baseball tournament to ballfields in Glenwood Springs and Carbondale.Since his death in 2001, Sorenson’s wife DeeDee and son Rick have been joined by the Nieslanik family to keep his dream alive. And the dream has grown. The tournament now features 56 teams with players ranging from 8-16 years old. Six different fields from Basalt to Glenwood are needed to get in all the action.”Jerry was the one that brought Triple Crown to the Western Slope,” said Lisa Nieslanik, who is in her third year as tournament director. “(The tournament) was his passion.”

Rick Sorenson has stayed involved with the tournament as a site director/coordinator at the River Valley Ranch field in Carbondale .The Nieslanik family’s involvement with the event continues to grow.Lisa’s nephew, Parker, a junior-to-be member of the Roaring Fork High School baseball team, is in charge of preparing all the fields for play and supplies answers to where and when teams compete in any of the six age-division tournaments.Which means some early wake-up calls and long hours.”On Friday night, I was working on the fields until 10 p.m. and I was at Glenwood Springs Middle School at 5:30 a.m. Saturday morning,” he said.

Triple Crown: see page 18Between games, Parker’s also gotten to watch some games and has been impressed with the caliber of play. “There are some good teams here,” he said. “Its all good and getting paid (for the field work) is fun, but I’d rather be playing.”Two younger Nieslanik boys – Johnny (Parker’s brother) and Shea (Parker’s cousin) – play for the Three Rivers All-Stars U10 team, one of six area squads competing this weekend. This is the first time they have participated in a Triple Crown tournament as players.”The teams are really good, but it’s fun to play against them,” Shea said. Johnny agreed with his cousin on the competition, but added the hardest part of the Triple Crown tournament was learning and getting accustomed to different base-running and pitching rules.

“Sometimes it was hard,” he said. Unlike Little League Baseball, which Johnny and Shea play most of the summer, Triple Crown tournaments allow baserunners to lead off instead of waiting for the ball to be released by the pitcher to steal bases.Balks can also be called on pitchers, according to tournament rules.In Saturday’s early action, the U10 Columbine Rebels seemed more comfortable with the Triple Crown set of rules and rolled to a 20-6 pool-play victory over Three Rivers.Three Rivers continues play in the U10 playoffs this morning at Vogelaar Park in Glenwood.

Playoff games in the U11, U12, U14 and U16 tournaments resume today and conclude with division championship contests this afternoon.Three championship games will take place in Carbondale, starting with the U12 title game at 1:30 p.m. at River Valley Ranch. The U14 championship game is scheduled for 3 p.m. at Roaring Fork High School and the U12 title game will be at River Valley Ranch at 3:15 p.m. Two championship contests are in Glenwood. The U13 game starts at 12:10 p.m. at Two Rivers Park and the U16 title game will be at the middle school field at 2:45 p.m.The tournament champion and runner-up from each division along with the third-best team, based on overall record, earn berths to the Triple Crown World Series in Steamboat Springs later this summer.

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