Entering the final leg of pool play with a record of 2-1 in the 14u division at US Club Nationals, the Tidewater Drillers desperately yearned for that third win, one that would give them a chance at a possible first round bye in bracket play.
Though Tidewater trailed early, the scrappy and resilient group of kids from Virginia legged out a victory over the Georgia Bombers, 8-6, giving the Drillers a chance at a coveted night off.
“When we took a look at our draw going in, you’re saying to yourself that 2-2 might be a good record at the end of the day,” said head coach Tommy DeMartini.
“We got a really good pitching performance yesterday against Dallas (Tigers), we got a really good pitching performance from all of our guys today and we saw the ball well at the plate.”
Georgia struck the first blow in Tidewater’s duel against the Bombers. A lead-off single, propelled by a stolen base had the Bombers up, 1-0, after the first inning.
Hitting in the clean-up spot, starting pitcher Jonathan Wall kick started the bottom of the second inning with a single. Wall would race home on a passed ball, tying the game at one.
A double from Cameron Belter and a walk from Avery Byrum immediately followed, setting up two runners in scoring position for Brandon Parks, an opportunity he wouldn’t take lightly. Parks belted a double, scoring both Belter and Byrum to put the Drillers up, 3-1.
Tidewater would add another run in the third inning, thanks to an RBI single from Ethan Anderson. Anderson not only provided timely hitting at the plate, but also captained three different Drillers pitchers throughout the contest as the team’s catcher.
“I know what each of those guys brings to the plate,” said Anderson. “It’s not too difficult once you’ve dealt with each of them a couple of times. You just have to know each of their styles.”
The first of the Driller’s arms out of the dugout was Jonathan Wall. After surrendering the initial run, Wall pitched three solid innings that featured three strikeouts, two of them looking.
Kyle Edwards rotated in after the third inning. Edwards, much like Wall, allowed the first batter he saw to score but made the proper adjustments as the game wore on, also striking out three Georgia Bombers.
As the game slimmed to 4-2 after that fourth inning, Tidewater jumped back on offense, looking for some breathing room. Back-to-back walks paved the way for Braden Ward to notch his first extra-base hit of the contest, scoring Avery Byrum. Ward would come around himself along with Brandon Parks thanks to a two-RBI double from Ryan Shieh, pushing the lead out, 7-2.
Jack Speights, pitching in relief during the fifth inning was aided by some incredible defense, including a nifty 5-3 double play from Quinn Allen. Allen made several highlight plays at the hot corner all afternoon long.
“It comes from a lot of practice,” said Allen. “The coaches do a great job teaching us fundamentals. From there, it’s about repetition.”
Tensions started to mount in the sixth inning when the Bombers carded four runs in the top of the inning, creeping within a single run. However, Tidewater responded with a run of its own in the bottom half just as the two-hour time limit came to a close, ending the game in the Drillers favor, 8-6.
“These kids fight,” said DeMartini. “This is a team that plays the game the right way, they never give up and they keep getting after it. We’re just a good solid baseball team. They did all the little things. We had good at-bats, held runners, picked off runners and were overall just very efficient.”
Tags: Baseball, Triple Crown Baseball, US Club Nationals