Back-to-back state tournaments up next
BY NICK ClARK
The month of June won’t be forgotten any time soon for a group of 13U baseball players from Champlin/Dayton.
The Rebels 13U AAA traveling baseball team completed June by wrapping up their regular season with a 15-game winning streak.
Parlaying their ability to play defense with some clutch offensive performances, the Rebels finished the month with a extraordinary 18-1 record, which left the club with a 23-4 overall record.
Playing in arguably one of the state’s most competitive divisions, the Rebels finished in front of teams such as the 2011 state runner-up from St. Michael-Albertville, the 2011 division champion Elk River, the 2011 fourth place state tournament finishers from Maple Grove, and a list of others that includes Anoka, Delano, Buffalo, Brooklyn Park and Armstrong/Cooper.
“To win 15 games in a row against one of the toughest divisions is remarkable,” said head coach Kevin Costello. “This team has come a long ways this year, and they played with a lot of heart and character. Every player has improved and each one of them found a way to contribute by playing great defense, pitching, or getting a timely hit or bunt.”
The stretch includes victories of all shapes and sizes. Brandon Oxley and Zach Loven combined to pitch the Rebels to a 5-0 victory over Maple Grove. In a 21-0 win over Anoka, Cole Albers and Ty Miklaus combined for nine hits.
The team scored two runs in the bottom of the seventh to squeeze out a 4-3 victory over Armstrong/Cooper, and Albers clutch, two-run double set up Chad Costello’s eighth-inning, game-winning home run – his first ever career home run – in what was an 11-9, come-from-behind victory over Delano.
“It was a bomb, and to see the expression on his face and the kids’ as he was rounding third was incredible,” said Kevin Costello. “I knew it was gone right when it left Chad’s bat.”
Defensively, Nolan Neilson, Oxley, Ian Koltes and Alex Horn chased most everything down in the outfield, and Derrick Johnson, Loven, Chad Costello, Albers, Miklaus, Drew Nelson, Ethan Mocchi and Drew Johnson controlled play in the infield.
“I thought we would have a great defensive team going into the season and that it would keep us in a lot of games,” Kevin Costello said. “But we played outstanding defense which helped us win a lot of close games. I think we have some of the best fielders in the state at this level.”
The team will find out in short order just where it stacks up. Behind the strength of their season, the Rebels played in the Minnesota Baseball Tournaments (MBT) state tournament July 13-15, before competing in the Minnesota Youth Athletic Services (MYAS) state tournament the weekend of July 20-22.
“Hopefully we can keep it going,” Costello said. “This team has done a lot already, and it’s baseball, so it’s not easy to string things together likes this. But we’ll sure try.”
Rebels 15U wins
in St. Cloud
The Champlin/Dayton Rebels AAA 15U team was the champion of the 20-tea, 15AAA Gopher State Midsummer Classic.
The Rebels opened the tournament with a 7-7 tie against Tonka Black, but rebounded to beat both St. Croix and Cambridge to advance out of pool play and into the championship series.
There, the team beat Tonka Blue 12-7 and Centennial 10-0 to move into the final, where the Rebels faced Tonka Black again and won the game 8-4.