by Jason Hanes
After having to grind out a pair of wins Wednesday, 6-4-3 DP 14u was able to let loose and have fun in their final game of pool play as everyone contributed to a 17-3 win over Central Alabama Nationals to win Pool A at the Triple Crown U.S. Club Nationals.
"Getting this win was big," said 6-4-3 head coach Jamaal Hawkins. "We didn't want to have to play that extra game, so now we're able to save pitching, and that's huge."
6-4-3 DP opened up a 4-0 lead after the top of the first, and then held a 10-3 lead through two innings, allowing Coach Hawkins to play his entire bench and in different positions.
Showing patience at the plate, 6-4-3 was content to draw walks and use bunts to put added pressure on the defense. The first four runs for 6-4-3 scored on three hits, with Trent Ringer notching an RBI infield single and Wyatt Strahl poking a two-run single into the outfield.
In the second, holding a 4-2 lead, 6-4-3 scored six runs on only one hit, with that coming on a bunt single by Nathan Pettitt. Central Alabama Nationals could only match with one run in the bottom of the inning, giving 6-4-3 a 10-3 lead after two.
The large lead allowed Coach Hawkins to start moving players around and to get players that have seen time on the bench a chance to get extended playing time. "Games like this are great for the morale of the team. Guys that normally play are cheering on other guys," Coach Hawkins said. "All year, this group has been a great group to be around. They really pull for each other and I think it helps them play better."
An RBI single by Pettitt extended the lead to 11-3 in the third. In the fourth, an RBI single by Druw Jones, a two-run single by Yannis Rembert, and an RBI single by Bryson Jackson pushed the lead to 17-3.
On the mound, Jack Steel was solid, allowing just three runs in 3.2 innings before giving way for the final out of the contest to Bryson Jackson, who got help from his teammates with an unconventional 2-7-2 put out to end the contest.
"Today was a lot of fun," Steel said. "These are all nice kids, funny kids. I feel like I pitched well today, but having a big lead like that helps me to be able to enjoy the win that much more with my teammates."
The win earned 6-4-3 DP the top seed in the 14u bracket and a contest against No. 7-seed SBA Canes at 3 p.m. Thursday. With the No. 11-seed in the tournament, Central Alabama Nationals will face No. 10-seed East Cobb Baseball at 1:40 p.m. Friday.