Like a full bathtub with a leak, the 13u 6-4-3 DP Athletics team watched everything they had slowly slip away Friday during championship bracket play at the US Club Nationals.
After watching the South Bay Surf come all the way back from a 4-0 deficit to tie the game at 5-all, the Athletics needed to reinvigorate and flip the switch, or else face a long journey through the loser’s bracket if it hoped to reach Saturday’s final. But with a burst of seventh-inning fireworks, the Athletics got the blood pumping again and posted a 12-6 victory to move deeper in the winner’s half of the 13 bracket.
Saturday, the Athletics will face the Dallas Tigers at 9 a.m., with the winner earning spot in the final (3 p.m., ESPN3). The loser will drop down and still have a chance to fight through the lower half.
The Athletics had runners on first and third after two pitches in the first inning and cashed in a run on a double from Parker Lester. Champ Davis drove in two more with a second-inning double, and Dawson Campbell’s sacrifice fly in the third made it 4-0.
The Surf responded, and a single from Jaime Robertson and a sacrifice fly by Eli Serrano tied it in the sixth.; 6-4-3 reliever Druw Jones escaped the frame with two runners in scoring position.
In the top of the seventh, Davis led off with a single, and after being unable to get the bunt down, Josh Kaiz singled as well. Lester’s two-run double was the key shot as Jones allowed just one harmless run in the bottom of the frame.
“We try to preach, every inning – add on. Every team here is good, and if you let them back in, the pressure is on you,” said Athletics coach Chris Goershel. “But this team proved it could play seven complete innings and do the little things in the field, and also respond when it’s time to step to the plate.”
Lester threw a rigorous and demanding five innings before the Surf fought back and tied it, which made his big hit in the seventh all the more satisfying.
“I was just trying to make my pitches and hit location, and let my defense work. They will make plays for me and get outs,” said Lester, who had three hits, two doubles, two runs and three RBI. “I was hoping to drive in some runs (in the seventh). I just had to put the ball in play and hit it hard, and I happened to get a double. We have fight and want to win every ball game.”
“Parker pitched a big game in pool play to give us a chance to get in the bracket, and he came around and stepped up today. He’s one of those kids – he does everything 100 percent and if one of the best kids in the nation in this age group,” added Goershel.
Davis reached base three times; leadoff hitter Haydon Smith had three hits and scored three runs and also drove in a run.
“I was looking to get my team to the next step,” Davis said about his leadoff hit in the seventh. “It’s just getting on, getting in and scoring that run and then getting to the (end) of the inning and closing it out. I had a 2-1 count (in the second inning) and thought I’d get a fastball, and that’s what I got.
“Our energy in the dugout is big, in how we can stay up throughout the whole game, whether we are up and down. That’s a big part of things.”
Chase Couig had a big two-run single for the Surf; Baylor Aimesley scored a run and drove in another.
Tags: Baseball, Triple Crown Baseball, US Club Nationals