AUBURN – A youth baseball team’s schedule can get pretty busy this time of year if it digs deep into a state tournament.
Take the Ararat 12U All-Stars, for example, who played their sixth game in five days in the Double Elimination State tournament on Wednesday.
Throw you in a searing heat that engulfed the condition lately, and the grind can be a bear.
“Our team was built for a tournament like this,” said Ararat 12U head coach Jon Hiltz on Wednesday before his team played in the state title game against Noble. “We have a deep and talented pitching team, which was a big reason for our victory in 2018 and a big reason why we’re where we are now.”
Ararat and Noble met for the third and final time at this tournament on Wednesday evening to determine a national champion. Noble defeated Ararat 10-2 on Monday to secure a place in the final. Ararat stepped out of the losing group and defeated Noble 7-1 on Tuesday to organize another showdown between two teams with a little common history.
Ararat defeated Noble in the 2018 9U State Finals and reached the New England tournament.
When it comes to strategy, pitch counts remain a priority.
A player can throw a maximum of 85 pitches per day. However, a pitcher can terminate an at-bat when it reaches this threshold. After that, the player is not eligible to play for two days. Anyone who throws between 1 and 40 pitches can turn around and throw the next day. A pitcher needs a day of rest if he throws between 41 and 66 pitches. Sixty-six or more pitches require a two-day break.
The strategy of protecting weapons at a tournament is almost always in the foreground, said Hiltz. Ararat has mostly ridden the arms of three players – Daniel Beal, Will Davis and Colby MacFawn. Lefty Brady Hiltz, Jon’s son, is also called on to come up with some big innings.
“Absolutely, it’s a big part of the process,” said Hiltz when asked how the number of pitches plays a role in his decision-making. “We rode Colby as often as possible. He was great for us every time he stepped on the hill for us. “
Beal and Davis have been solid for Ararat too, and Hiltz knows he can turn to them anytime. Beal was superb too – he threw up an entire game gem in Tuesday’s victory over Noble.
David Edwards also appeared in the game against Noble on Monday.
In addition to the full tournament schedule, the players had to cope with the heat and humidity.
“The heat was definitely a factor. We made some decisions to fight it, ”said Hiltz. “Winning our first two games definitely helped us so that we didn’t have to play seven instead of six.”
The game on Wednesday is the third time that the two teams have competed against each other in three days. Since Noble is hosting the New England regional tournament, which is scheduled to begin in Berwick on July 16, a place in the tournament is guaranteed. Ararat too, because Maine needs to send a representative outside of the host.
Although Hiltz and Ararat have already secured a spot at the regional tournament, they insist that they play to win.
“The drive home after the defeat two nights ago compared to the drive home after the two victories yesterday (Tuesday) were two completely different feelings,” said Hiltz. “We don’t look at it as if we already have our place. I know they are ready to play their best game (Wednesday). “
The New England Regional League will consist of Noble, Ararat and teams from Connecticut, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont and two teams from Massachusetts.
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