The Crystal Lake Bombers' Luke Tevyaw took an inside pitch and turned on it. After it traveled over the heads of the Puerto Rico All-Star outfielders, and after it traveled over a Gatorade sign on the outfield fence, it landed about 360 feet from home plate. It was a three-run shot, one that gave the Bombers a 3-2 lead in the first inning.
But the coach of the Bombers' 15U squad, Matt Sibigtroth, was not pleased with what he saw from his team after Tevyaw's home run. Tevyaw rounded the bases, touched home plate and gave several high-fives, but it wasn't enough.
"We hit a 360-foot bomb and we only had four people meet him at home plate," Sibigtroth pleaded to his players in the dugout.
Fatigue might have been one of the many factors that led to the Bombers' 13-5 loss to the Puerto Rico All-Stars in the McHenry County Youth Sports Association Summer International Championships on Thursday that ended their tournament. But Sibigtroth was in no mood for excuses.
“These guys are 15 years old. If they can’t have the energy to come out and play baseball for a week, then I don’t know what we need to do to get them going," he said.
Baseball can be a grueling sport. Games can last up to three or four hours, and action for individual players can be rare. However, youth baseball tournaments often can be particularly exhausting on players, with multiple games during the course of one day, and a repeat of that day after day, presuming you advance.
Fatigue and depth is not the end all be all for determining a winner, but it can be a large factor, increasing the importance of the time spent in between games.
What most teams and players are told to do in between games should be no surprise to anyone who has played sports in their life. Sibigroth stresses several things to his players.
"I just told them, ‘You go home, take it easy, get something to eat, something healthy, and just start preparing for the next game,’ ” he said.
It sounds simple, but some instructions are more intricate, like running. Running and pitching might not seem like they belong in the same sentence, but it's one of the most important aspects of taking the mound on a consistent basis. The main accomplishment achieved by running is to rid the arm of lactic acid.
“When you throw, you get lactic acid built up in your elbow and your shoulder,” Sibiroth said. “So when you run, it gets your blood pumping and it flushes all that stuff out.”
Of all the baseball positions, pitchers are likely the most affected by tournament play. In the Bombers' loss, they cycled through four pitchers over the course of five innings.
This was not necessarily all because of fatigue, but it could have played a difference. No matter what the reason, Sibigroth doesn't base his rotation or pitching decisions on anything but performance.
“I rotate our pitchers based on how things are going," he said. "If things are going great, then we let them go. If not, then we get the next guy up."
The Bombers’ play in a game or tournament about every week, so this type of situation isn't new to them. However, the loss puts an end to their summer, meaning the grueling nature of tournament baseball comes to a close for them.
At least until next year.