Little League squad qualifies after winning the state tournament.
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After losing the first baseball game in a double-elimination tournament, your chances of winning it all dwindle.
But to the Taylorsville Little League All-Stars, giving up wasn't an option. After losing their opening game to Crown Colony from Cottonwood 6-4, the Warriors charged all the way back en route to winning the Utah State Championship.
After losing to Crown Colony, the Warriors dropped to the lower bracket, but then reeled off six straight wins, including consecutive victories in rematches versus Crown Colony for the championship.
"It was pretty interesting to have to go through the losers' bracket to win it," said Taylorsville coach Edo Rotini. "The kids played six games in just four days, which is not easy to do."
The gritty group of 10-year-olds now moves on to the regional championships in Beaver, where they will challenge teams from all over the country, including Hawaii, Colorado, Arizona and Nevada, and even a squad from Guam. The tournament began Monday.
Rotini, who has been coaching Little League and AAU baseball for more than 45 years, has put together more than 30 teams who have won the state championship and this year's squad has a chance to join Rotini's five national titles as well.
"First we have to take care of regionals," Rotini said. "The kids are excited and we just hope those guys [opponents] are all worn out by the time they get here."
The Warriors are led by a handful of talented players. Pitcher and catcher Austin Tanner smashed two home runs in the second game against Crown Colony in the championship and second basemen and outfielder Crosby Bringhurst also went deep with a homer in the same game. Hunter Hughes led the Warriors on the mound, holding together a 7-4 victory.
Not only are Rotini and his team excited, the Warrior parents get to enjoy the ride as well.
"It's cool because they get to see teams from all over the place," said Austin's mother, Summer. "They get to see and go to some places that most 10-year-olds never get to see."
Part of the Warriors' success may be attributed to an advantage they get from their veteran coach. For years Rotini has held practice on a full baseball field on his own property. His field includes a full dirt infield, a backstop, pitching mounds and a couple of batting cages.
Rotini's family also donated a field to Taylorsville City.
"He's got it all back there," Summer Tanner said. "They can practice all winter long and they don't have to worry about splitting field time with other teams. They work really hard year-round for what they are doing."
» The Taylorsville Little League All-Stars are the state champions in the 10-year-old bracket and are moving on to the regional tournament in Beaver.
» Coach Edo Rotini coaches the All-Stars from a field in his backyard, complete with batting cages, an infield and pitching mounds.