Team earns 3 seed, will play today on ESPN


Burlington 12U all-stars huddle during last week's 6-5 win over Kentucky. (Submitted/Standard Press)

Burlington 12U all-stars huddle during last week’s 6-5 win over Kentucky. (Submitted/Standard Press)

By Mike Ramczyk

Sports Editor

Facing the brink of elimination Tuesday in pool play of the Little League Central Region tournament in Indianapolis, the Burlington 12U All-Stars relied on their horse, Trent Turzenski.

The tall, intimidating pitcher needed to pitch the game of his life to keep his squad’s hopes of the Little League World Series alive.

Turzenski did just that, striking out nine batters and adding a two-run home run at the plate to help clobber Michigan, 9-1, in the final game of the four-day pool play.

The third-seeded all-stars (2-2) will now take a day off Wednesday before gearing up for Indiana (3-1) Thursday at 1 p.m. The game will be nationally televised on ESPN.

“We did what we had to do,” said coach Dale DeGroot Tuesday night. “We made it to the final four, and that’s awesome. When we got here, I thought we were one of the top three teams.”

Turzenski threw 84 pitches but will not be available to pitch Thursday. DeGroot said Turzenski was “phenomenal” in the Michigan game.

Burlington enjoyed the benefit of three big innings to knock off Michigan.

In the first, Turzenski’s jack and Tyler Swanson’s steal of home plate propelled Burlington to a 3-0 lead.

Then, in the third, Burlington tacked on two more runs and RBI doubles from Christian Brenner and Dalton Damon.

Burlington blew things wide open in the sixth. After a Tyler Duesing single, Swanson, Collin DeGroot, Turzenski and Brenner all notched RBI singles to put the game away.

“We’ve started hitting the last couple days,” Dale DeGroot said.

On Monday, Burlington fell to Indiana, 8-3. Coach DeGroot said his team was pretty equal with Indiana, but it gave up three home runs. He said the team plans to pitch around Indiana’s power hitters Thursday.

Burlington out-hit Indiana despite the loss. Dale DeGroot said he plans to use Strommen and an array of pitchers against Indiana.

“It’s a tough pool,” he said. “Illinois is favored to win. But we are holding our own.”

In the other semifinal, top-seeded Illinois will play No. 4 Kentucky.

Wednesday will be the first day off for the boys after games Saturday through Tuesday.

Dale DeGroot said coaches have been bussing the kids back and forth to the field, which is 15 miles from the hotel.

At the field facility, there are picnics, tennis courts and bags contest for the players in-between games. Back at the hotel, 12 teams are booked. That means a lot of swimming, hanging out and meeting new friends.

Burlington 6, Kentucky 5

After losing the tournament opener Saturday against Illinois, the boys bounced back with a back-and-forth affair Sunday.

Damon’s two-run single in the fifth inning plated Swanson and Turzenski and put Burlington ahead for good, 6-5. In the sixth, Collin DeGroot shut the door with three straight outs to end the game after surrendering a leadoff single.

Duesing allowed one run in 2-2/3 innings of work on the mound.

Burlington jumped out to an early 4-0 lead in the bottom of the second. Brandon Pum’s RBI single scored Josh Edmundson. Then, Luke Walesa and Pum scored on a two-run double by Strommen. Strommen scored on a Swanson groundout.

Illinois 10, Burlington 0

On Saturday, Burlington was no match for the boys below the border.

Illinois, or Jackie Robinson West, hit the ball well and was “pretty unbelievable,” according to Dale DeGroot.

Strommen had a hit for Burlington.

Turzenski, Damon, Strommen and Collin DeGroot pitched for Burlington.

Though Illinois is the favorite to win the tournament, Dale DeGroot said his team will do better against Illinois should they meet in the championship game.