COLORADO SPRINGS – There’s no place like home.
For most of the players and coaches participating in the Pathway Games at Security Service Field (Sky Sox Stadium), this isn’t home. In fact, some of the clubs have traveled across the country to showcase their talent at the 18u baseball tournament.
But for a few, getting to play this venue is rather convenient. Such was the case for the Slammers-Martin, whose lineup consists of in-state players ranging from the greater Denver area down to the northern part of Colorado Springs.
And that was something coach Billy Martin said was a bit of a luxury Thursday, following his team’s return home from a trip to San Diego just two days prior.
“It’s fantastic to be able to play high-quality guys without having to go anywhere,” Martin said. “We always try to find good competition, and it’s really nice when it’s in-town.”
Slammers-Martin got their Pathway Games run off to a good start Thursday afternoon, beating the Marucci Bears (Baton Rouge, Louisiana), 4-3.
The Slammers were productive early, building themselves a 3-1 lead by the second inning. Their scoring run began in the bottom of the opening frame when third baseman Jake Haze crossed home plate. They then added a pair of runs in the following inning when an RBI single from Garrett Martin helped score Noah Kuzman and Harris Williams.
From there, the Slammers’ offense stalled a bit, but they were able to keep things in their favor through strong defensive play.
“For the most part, we have some pretty good defense. We scuffled there a little bit, but we’ve got some guys that grinded it out,” Martin said.
The Bears stayed within striking distance, and eventually tied the game 3-3 in the top of the fifth inning. The Slammers, however, were swift to respond in the ensuing half-inning on an RBI single from Kuzma that scored outfielder Justin Olson to regain the lead.
Olson, a University of Kentucky commit, finished the game going 2-for-2 with a pair of walks and a run scored.
“We have an amazing team, and having other amazing teams come out here that we can play without having to go all over the country is awesome,” Olson said. “It’s so much fun, especially on a field like this. What more could you ask for?”
Slammers-Martin stood 1-0 after their first game Thursday afternoon with another pool play game to come against Slammers-Cronican at 4:30 p.m. The top three teams in Pool A, and the winner of Pool B, will advance to Saturday’s championship bracket.
“We did a lot of good things in that first game that we liked,” Olson said. “We just want to keep winning and stay on a positive note after this game. We have the momentum.”