On the one hand, it’s not much of a surprise that the Horizon baseball team won the Big League Dugout Invitational on Thursday night.
The Huskies are one of the strongest programs in the state, producing past standouts such as Tim Alderson, Tommy Joseph and Tuffy Gosewisch.
On the other, this year’s group entered the tournament under .500 and without the traditional star power, so not much was expected going in.
The Huskies picked it up at the right time, winning four of their five tournament games and capping it with a 7-2 victory over Brophy for the championship at Horizon.
Trevor Horn had a three-run double to spearhead a seven-run first inning, and Horizon continually dodged Brophy threats the rest of the way. Horizon won Pool A with a 2-1 record and beat Corona del Sol in the semifinals. Prior to the tournament, the Huskies were just 4-7.
“We turned the corner a little bit,” Horizon coach Eric Kibler said. “We had played some good games but never back-to-back. This tournament was real good for us. Our kids have really come a long way.”
The Broncos loaded the bases in three separate innings but couldn’t score any of those runs. The biggest missed opportunity came in the third when three consecutive walks filled the bases with nobody out.
Connor Messman hit a would-be sacrifice fly to left field, but Ryan Grotjohn was called out on an appeal for leaving third base too early, and Nolan Weinstein flew out to end the threat.
The bases were loaded with one out in the sixth, but Christian Maggi struck out and Ryan Castellani lined to shortstop. Horn induced a double play in the top of the seventh to finish off the victory. He finished the game 2-for-3 with two doubles and three RBIs and was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player.
“We’re playing a lot better as a team,” Horn said. “We’re connecting innings together and we’re getting back-to-back hits. Our camaraderie has gotten a lot better.”
The Broncos were led by Michael Lucero, who went 2-for-2 with a solo homer, two runs scored and two walks. Brophy had 13 batters reach base by either a walk or hit by pitch but only one came around to score.
“We dodged some bullets tonight,” Kibler said.