The Alamo Drillers 12U Major (pictured above) from San Antonio went 6-0 this past weekend to win the Super NIT Golden Triangle Games and its third consecutive USSSA tournament. Over the past three appearances over the span of a few weeks, manager Marco Cunningham’s club is 14-0. In Beaumont, Texas, over the previous weekend they outscored opponents by a 67-6 combined margin.
The Drillers were one of 25 12U teams entered in the 12-Major field of the Golden Triangle Games. While the teams predominantly called the host state of Texas their home, seven clubs did travel from Louisiana to compete against some of the Southwest’s best competition. The tournament followed a typical format where each team played a two-game pool schedule followed by seeding into a single elimination bracket to determine a champion.
The Drillers entered Beaumont with an impressive resume and were clearly one of the teams to beat. Their schedule began with a date against the Elite Gladiators – a AAA team from Texas who had yet to pick up a win on the season. The final score was what one might have imagined the game on paper, a 15-0 trouncing by the Drillers. Cunningham was able to spare most of his pitchers as Chris Sampson and Demarco Bandiero combined for the shutout. The second pool game for the Drillers was virtually a replay of its first – a 15-0 drubbing of a AAA team. This time the team (Smash Baseball) was from Louisiana and did register a few wins prior to entering. Nonetheless it was a huge advantage for the winning side to only have to use two pitchers for a total of three innings in a run rule shortened game. Masato Chilcutt (2 IP) and Kayson Cunningham (1 IP) were chiefly responsible for this shutout.
It was hard to put up more impressive numbers than the Drillers in the first two games as they went 2-0 and didn’t yield a single run. Three teams came close, however. The Houston Bengals 12U Black, HTX Swing Kings and Traction Canes 12U Black all went 2-0 and allowed just one run. The Drillers did earn the top overall seed and earned a first round bye going directly into the round of 16.
They rested and faced the Redline team from Lumberton, Texas, who doubled up SETX Mizuno-Autrey 10-5 in the first round. This game followed the script of the first two as the Drillers jumped all over an undermanned (AAA) squad. The final was 14-0 and Cunningham chose to use Cade Segura on the hill for all four innings. The Drillers feasted on one more opponent, albeit a Major classified squad with a 22-8 record before the competition ramped up greatly. In the quarters the Drillers beat the New Orleans Naturals 8-0 to register its fourth consecutive shutout as Ty Hawkins started on the mound and nearly went the distance before giving way to Chris Sampson.
In the semifinals against the Traction Canes 12u Black from Louisiana, the Drillers were tested like they hadn’t been before this tournament. Against the 20-7 Traction Canes, the Driller offense only produced 6 runs compared to the 13 they had been averaging to that point. It was the Drillers’ pitching and defense that held steady, but finally surrendered runs – three to be exact. Still, credit goes to Masato Chilcutt for going three innings and Demarco Bandiero who went two for the 6-3 victory.
The Drillers handed the seventh-seeded Gushers its first loss in 11 games on the season in the title game, 9-3 to cap an outstanding two-day tournament run. The Drillers have cemented itself as one of the best teams in the country in the 12-Major division and will be a serious threat in any tournament they enter.
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