The championship ring that 10-year-old Evan Huckaby pulled out of his pocket would look massive on his father’s hand, much less his own.
Wearable? Not by a long shot. But for each of the members of the Indiana Blazers Black 10U baseball team, the rings will serve as a reminder of just how big their state title run was.
The Blazers capped their run through the Indiana USSSA State Tournament with a 13-10 victory against a heavily favored Indiana Nitro Gold team Tuesday evening in Mooresville.
“We knew that the challenge was there; this wasn’t an easy road,” head coach Kyle Huckaby said. “We knew that we had to play our best baseball to win, and they definitely brought their best baseball games.”
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Their reward, in addition to some oversized jewelry, included a firetruck escort through town Wednesday evening.
To earn that ride, the team needed to survive a championship game that took more than 48 hours to complete.
After advancing through the quarterfinal round by defeating Mad Dog Baseball, 9-1, on June 25, the Blazers opened play the following day with an 8-5 semifinal win against Indiana Prospects — and then found some magic to open the final game, when each of the first 11 batters the team sent to the plate got hits and scored.
“I’ve never seen that as long as I’ve been around,” coach Chuck Zapfe said.
Right after the Blazers had caught lightning in a bottle, though, actual lightning forced the suspension of the game. The teams agreed to reconvene two nights later and pick up where they left off, with the Columbus-area squad holding a seemingly safe 11-0 lead.
“They came back Tuesday fresh with different uniforms, and they had nothing to lose — and they played like it,” Zapfe said. “They were the better team Tuesday, but we had that cushion.”
It was just enough. The Nitro club stormed its way back, but the Blazers brought in ace pitcher Luke Harmon in the final inning to close things out, and he responded with three consecutive strikeouts to end it.
Justin Broughton led a balanced offense for the Blazers during the state tourney, going 11 for 15 with a home run. Devin Pate was 6 for 11, Harmon was 7 for 13 and Sam Burkman was 7 for 14. Evan Huckaby gutted out the final innings of the title game with a broken finger.
The Blazers, who are 33-9 on the year, are now planning a trip to Gulf Shores, Alabama, for the USSSA Global World Series, which takes place July 20 to 23.
The state champion Indiana Blazers Black 10U team: