By Craig Harper
For the Courier
AURORA — Mother Nature did the Ken-Caryl Little League Majors no favors in the District 5 tournament. In fact, she literally helped the defending champions get washed out with a pair of losses on July 13.
And coach Brian Berland was none too happy about how a July 12 rainout in Colorado Springs resulted in KCLL playing its second game the next day against a Cherry Creek team making its only appearance.
After rallying to tie but losing 11-10 in the sixth inning to unbeaten Academy in the morning, KCLL ran out of gas in a 13-2 five-inning elimination loss, exiting with a 2-2 record. The July 13 games were moved from the Academy fields in Colorado Springs, where the rains hit July 12 after Cherry Creek had beaten Arapahoe, to the Mission Viejo Fields, home of the Cherry Creek Little League.
“It’s too much to ask of kids who came from the winners’ bracket to regroup for another game against a team that’s fresh,” Berland said. “It’s not fair. Little League shouldn’t allow that to happen.”
Berland said the situation “pretty much turned the first game into a championship game, and we fought our tails off and were right there. We were down 10-7 going into the top of the sixth inning. We tied it up and almost held them off.”
KCLL led Cherry Creek 2-0 after the first inning, but the hosts scored three in the third and four in the fourth to go up 8-2.
“I think you see what happens with a team that’s emotionally spent and doesn’t have a chance to recover to come back,” Berland said. “We fought hard, but there just wasn’t much left in the tank to get back. I think the bigger factor (besides Little League not allowing pitchers to throw in more than one game per day) was we were emotionally spent. We played to win the first game and we got real close. And when we didn’t win the first game we were let down. Drew Lytle pitched a great first four innings (against Cherry Creek) and then we kind of fell apart at the end.”
KCLL’s hitters and pitchers were hot for most of the tournament, including 15-0 and 13-3 wins over Dry Creek and Arapahoe.
“Everybody played extraordinarily well,” Berland said. “If you look at Academy, whose going into the championship game, they beat everybody by whoppingly large scores and we only lost 11-10. Jared Sharpe and Bracken Holmberg pitched outstanding ball, and the top seven hitters (Sharpe, Holmberg, Jesse Berland, Benjamin Bailey, Sean Hursh and Nathan and Joseph Bailey) were phenomenal. They were on fire all week.”