Murieta Bulldogs get right in time in big 14u win at SlumpBuster

June 14, 2024

COUNCIL BLUFFS, IA – Youth baseball doesn’t have a clock to fret over, but there’s no denying the moments where a certain “tick-tick-tick” sensation seems to dominate the mood.


Friday at 14u competition in the 2024 Omaha SlumpBuster (produced by Triple Crown Sports), the Murieta Bulldogs Navy (CA)saw the first several innings speed past without much comment as the Nebraska Prospects-Hansen claimed an early lead at the Council Bluffs Rec Complex. In fact, it was a 10-batters-up, 10-batters-down buzzkill between two teams that entered the day undefeated in two previous games.


A one-out double by Briley Guidry broke the streak, and Noah Aquilina gave Murieta that reset feeling after he timed a pitch perfectly, smoking a bases-loaded two-out triple to give his team a lead it wouldn’t surrender in a 4-2 victory.


Aquilina took careful note that two of the baserunners he hoped to drive in reached base on walks, which meant the odds of getting a fastball he could crank on were only going up.


“He threw me a curve ball there, and I thought, ‘OK, OK.’ But I was looking fastball all the way, and I got one, right there,” Aquilina said. “As soon as I hit it, I’m running as fast as I can, thinking (triple) out of the box and trying to bring in those runs.


“It can be tough, we were down in the rabbit hole there (for three innings), but we know how to work hard and get ourselves out of it. We know how to pick each other up.”


The Prospects edged out to a 2-0 lead as Alex Gentry tripled and scored on a groundout in the second inning, and Braxton Hemry singled in a run with two outs in the third. Murieta coach Tony Eddy was familiar with the sight of his team’s offense needing some elbow room to get cooking – not that it ever feels comfortable.


“It was a matter of timing the pitcher up. Once we did, hitting is always contagious with this team,” Eddy said. “We played pretty good defense, pitching keeps us in it as always, and as long as we’re close near the end, we’ll always have a shot.”


Murieta cycled through five pitchers Friday – 12of the 13 players in uniform can pitch, and none had taken the mound yet in those two previous games. The group ended up allowing just three hits and three walks, with Logan Haze handling the fifth and sixth before closer Luke Garcia pitched the seventh.


Garcia swiftly blitzed the Prospects’ hopes for a rally with three strikeouts.


“I had to come out for my team, just up two runs. I wanted to throw strikes and let my defense work,” said Garcia, who made his own life easier by driving in a key insurance run in the bottom of the sixth. “I saw a fastball I could use and put the barrel on it.”


“Our pitching plan worked out pretty well, kind of a bullpen game where you faced real good competition and had to lock in and grind,” added Eddy, who has full belief his group can be the last one standing after the championship bracket is decided Sunday. “We came out here to win. We’ll take our shot on Sunday, and it would be a great Father’s Day present because all the boys’ dads are out here.”