Missouri takes top honors at the Cal Ripkin regional tournament
     2014-07-30      By Kaitlyn Krzyzanowski    kaitlynk@geringcitizen.com
Photo by Anthony Brathwaite/for the Citizen - A player on the Kansas Rattlers team winds up for a pitch during the championship game for the Cal Ripken Midwest Plains Region 9 and under tournament against the Missouri Americans. The tournament lasted from July 25 through July 29. The Americans took top honors winning the match 7-4. 
After a successful weekend, the Midwest Plains Regional Cal Ripken 9 and under baseball tournament held Friday, July 25 through Tuesday, July 29 comes to a close. The games were held at the baseball facilities located in Oregon Trail Park on diamond 10.

The final day was a battle between four teams that were all eager to take home the championship. The first game between Kansas and Colorado left Kansas on top with a solid finish of 9-3. North Platte faced Missouri in the second semifinal but lost 10-0 leaving Missouri to head to the final game against Kansas. After a hard fought game, Kansas fell short 7-4, which gave Missouri the overall honors during the tournament.

President of Gering baseball and tournament director Doug Jones couldn’t have been more pleased with being able to host the games and be a part of the experience with the kids. Although the Gering team fell short with a record of 0-4 within the tournament, Jones could see the heart that they played with.

“The Gering team played some great baseball. From the boys and parents that I talked to during the tournament, they all thought it was an amazing experience. Although the games didn’t go the way they wanted them to, the boys really enjoyed their time and loved meeting all of the people who came down for the event,” Jones said.

Jones mentioned all of the positive experiences parents and kids had talked to him about throughout the weekend which turned out to be a great part of hosting the tournament locally

“We received really great feedback from all of the teams that the tournament went smoothly. One coach said that we really rolled out the red carpet for them. I was told our community was wonderful and very outgoing. Everyone was friendly to the players. A lot of the teams visited places such as the Scotts Bluff National Monument and Chimney Rock and were amazed that this kind of history was here. They mentioned that our community and history was a hidden gem. We found some new fans of western Nebraska and I don’t believe any of them would hesitate to come out here again for a vacation,” Jones said.

Not only was this tournament a great display of baseball, Jones believes it was a great learning experience for them as well.

“In general, I think the kids discovered a new appreciation for new places. I think a lot of kids also learned to never give up and we definitely didn’t have a team do that during this tournament. Every team fought to the very last out and played hard,” Jones said.

Jones put a lot of work into preparing this tournament for the kids and, throughout the process, he discovered a lot about himself.

“If I would’ve had the choice to host again earlier this month having not already been a part of the experience, I would’ve said get out of town. But throughout the tournament I learned a lot about organization personally and what it really takes to run a tournament. Now if I would be asked to host a tournament like this one again I would say yes in a heartbeat. I think we live in such a great area and it’s great for others to see that,” Jones said.

Jones, who has been involved with baseball in the community for many years, had a great experience with this tournament and loved being able to do this for the kids.

“The best part about being able to be involved in baseball with kids of all ages is remembering and realizing that it’s all for the kids. Knowing that the kids had a great time is the most important part. I saw the heartbreak when those kids lost their games because everybody out there wanted to win, but I also saw the joy on their faces when myself and the state commissioner thanked them for coming out. I don’t think we had a single kid go home disappointed that this tournament was in western Nebraska,” Jones said.

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