by Kyle Koso
Chris Rodriguez may have given up about 1000 feet worth of hits late Thursday, but he certainly earned his mile-wide smile at the finish.
The pitcher for the 13u Lonestar Elite-Dunn squad threw a stellar game to kick off bracket play at the U.S. Club Nationals, going all five innings in humid conditions as the eighth-seeded Elite toppled No. 1 seed 6-4-3 DP at East Cobb Park, 14-6. The final frame was no cakewalk for Rodriguez as he gave up two long home runs (and another shot halfway up the leftfield wall), but by then the Lonestar offense had provided a substantial cushion.
Rodriguez bent in a curveball to get a strikeout in the bottom of the fifth to end the game.
"We learned from the mistakes of the previous games, and we used that as motivation to come back. We knew we needed to win this first game in bracket play, and we crushed the No. 1 seed and set the tone to let all the other teams know we are here," said Rodriguez, who had muzzled 6-4-3 to just two runs before tiring late. "They caught up to my fastballs there late, so I knew I had to do something different. I gave them some offspeeds here and there and hoped they wouldn't hit another bomb."
Lonestar may have been the eighth seed coming in, but they had scored 30 runs in pool play and certainly didn't flinch at their challenge. The key frame was the third inning as Lonestar sent 13 batters up and poured across eight runs. Hank Benny came through with a two-out three-run double to break the game open.
"I was just trying to hit the line drive, especially after talking to my coach and him telling me to keep it down instead of elevating, and it worked out," Benny said. "We were pretty high with confidence, especially after winning our (previous) game, and we felt like we were going to win this game. Chris did a good job leading the team, getting us through the game."
Lonestar wrapped up its offensive highlights in the top of the fifth, with Brady Wilson hitting a triple and Ethan Lancaster bringing him in with a single. Travis Starkey added a double to score Mason Wagstaff, and Jackson Baker had his second RBI of the day with a single to score Starkey. Adrian Ramirez added three hits and two RBI.
"We lost our first pool game, made a mess of it with errors, and it got away from us. We are a real confident team that has played 14 Majors all year, so we're not going to be intimidated," said Lonestar head coach Robert Dunn. "There are good teams here; if we play well, we can play with anybody. We were having good at-bats, good approaches ... when we try to do too much, that's when we get in trouble.
"Chris gave us the game we needed. He kept it in the zone, limited the walks ... the pitch count got a little high in the end, but he got us a lot of ground balls. They all have to play together, because no one person is going to carry it."
Lonestar Elite will play at 11:20 a.m. on Friday at Aviation Park to continue in the winner's bracket; 6-4-3 DP begins its potentially long journey in the loser's bracket at 9 a.m.
by Jason Hanes
Thanks to clutch hitting and timely plays in the field, Dirtbags 13u stayed in the winner's bracket of the Triple Crown U.S. Club Nationals with a 10-5 win over Canes on a sweltering Thursday afternoon in Marietta, Ga.
"The guys brought it," said Dirtbags head coach Greg Holt. "They brought the energy, they brought the enthusiasm. That's one of the things we've been preaching is to show up every inning. We want to make sure we jump on people and get on top of them. Once [Canes] came back a little bit, we were able to put together a big inning and take control from there."
After a scoreless first inning, Ethan Gibson's sacrifice fly started the scoring to put the Dirtbags on top. With two men out in the inning, Shawn Kitchens would drive a two-run single into right to give his side a 3-0 lead.
The Canes would come right back to make it a contest. Down 3-1 in the bottom half of the inning, Jackson McDonald would take a full-count pitch with the bases loaded and two out back into center field for a game-tying single.
In the fourth, the Dirtbags would forge another lead. Capping a lengthy at-bat, Shelton Bocook ripped a ball past the Canes' third baseman to drive home the go-ahead run. "Honestly, I was just trying to stay down on the ball, stay through it, and drive it into the gap," Bocook said of his approach at the plate.
After keeping the Canes off the board in the bottom of the fourth, the Dirtbags surged farther ahead with a six-run fifth to put the game out of reach. The big blow of the inning came off the bat of catcher Colton Wombles. Wombles would rip an offering just inside the bag at third for a double to plate two runs and make it 8-4. "The first game today, I wasn't hitting as well as I wanted," Wombles said. "I spent some time with my coaches in the cage before the second game and worked on keeping my weight back."
After an error extended the lead, Bocook found the gap in left-center to plate the final run of the game for the Dirtbags and make it 10-3. "He's one of the leaders on this team," said Coach Holt. "He brings the energy. He holds the team accountable, and most importantly, he's a good person and a great teammate. I think, down the road, he's got a bright future."
In the bottom of the inning, with time expiring on the game, the Canes pressed hard to get runs on the board. With two men out, Callan Henderson ripped a double over the center fielder's head to plate a pair and make it 10-5. After a Canes batter was plunked, it seemed like momentum might be on the side wearing black and gold; however, a fielder's choice between the shortstop and the second baseman would wrap the game one batter later and the Dirtbags would prevail.
The win gives the Dirtbags a match-up against Five Star Tigers Friday at 11:20 a.m. "We're going to get another good program tomorrow," said Coach Holt. "We've just got to be consistent. We need to throw strikes and play defense, and obviously, we need timely hitting. Those are our keys to success."
by Thomas Hoffman
The Five Star Tigers had yet to trail in a game throughout its journey in the 13u Division of the 2018 US Club Nationals. Down 3-0 early, the Tigers chipped away at the Patriots’ lead, ultimately winning in walk-off fashion, 7-6, to remain undefeated and advance to the quarterfinals.
“We’ve won a lot of ballgames this year,” said head coach Andy Burress. “One thing that we do well is swing the bats. We were down early but I knew we’d come around.”
Dallas was riding a two-game win streak into the matchup and jumped on top early with three consecutive two-out doubles to drive in three runs. Justin Blancaflor, Barrett Kent and Lazaro Alvarado all came across home plate in the opening frame.
A quiet bottom half of the first let Dallas seek another run in the second. Kyler Proctor made the trip around the bases thanks to a duo of throwing errors from Five Star.
“We were up and ready to make a comeback,” said Garrett Mackowiak. “None of us lost confidence, we just were looking for pitches to hit to get on base and start a rally.”
Trailing 4-0, Riley Jackson heeded the optimism from Mackowiak and kicked the inning off with a walk. That would start a string of three consecutive hitters climbing aboard safely. Ethan Garner, Brooks Brannon and Hayden Freese each delivered RBI to bring the Tigers within one, 4-3.
In the fourth inning, Proctor tallied the second of his two base hits on the afternoon, and scored for a second time on another mistake from Five Star.
Dallas kept the lead, 5-3, until the game’s scheduled penultimate inning.
Mackowiak, who was previously 0-2 at the dish, came to the plate in the bottom of the sixth with Connor Crisp already on second. The hard-hitting right-hander muscled a double to the gap in left-center field, scoring crisp and climbing back within one.
“He’s been a big hitter for us all year long,” said Burress. “He’s a solid kid who comes up in big moments, time and time again.”
Three batters late, Garner flipped the advantage to Five Star with a crushing 2-RBI double. Suddenly, the Tigers were just three outs away from stealing a victory.
The Patriots had other ideas, however. Charles Hayden Smith trotted to first following a hit-by-pitch, and amazingly found himself scampering home on a passed ball a batter later to tie the game at six.
Five Star and Dallas had played six and one half thrilling innings and it only seemed inevitable an inning-ending double play would signal a decisive eighth inning.
With the international tie-breaker in place, Burress tagged Roberto Rodriguez to give Five Star a chance for a walk-off.
“I was waiting for my chance to do something special for my team,” Rodriguez said. “I went in there with a lot of confidence and wanted to get those guys out as fast as I could.”
A towering right-hand pitcher with big-league power, Rodriguez was more than up to the task, giving up just one walk before slamming the door shut on Dallas with a strikeout.
Sensing a little breathing room, Drew Burress moved the placed runner on second to third with a grounder to short, setting the stage for Mackowiak. Not to be denied a walk-off win, Mackowiak hammered a curveball to right field, sealing the victory, 7-6.
“I was expecting fastball,” said Mackowiak. “I was able to make an adjustment on a curveball and hit it just hard enough to make it count.”
Five Star moves into the quarterfinals where the No. 2 seed will face the No. 6 seeded Dirtbags.
“We’re prepared to go deep,” said Burress. “As we proved today, if we need to go another couple of innings to get the job done, we’re prepared to do so.”
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.
by Kyle Koso
When the action began to boil up against Parker Thomas, he knew just how to flip the switch and get things to simmer down.
Pitching for the 12u Dallas Raiders on Thursday at the U.S. Club Nationals, Thomas kept his composure when the East Cobb Colt .45s Navy squad looked ready to break out. A steady hand from Thomas and a very urgent approach on the bases allowed the Raiders to earn a little daylight on the scoreboard, eventually posting a 7-4 victory.
That put the Raiders at 2-1 overall, enough to clinch a top-four seed in the championship bracket, which begins Friday. After scoring just three runs in two games Wednesday, the Raiders decided to be more selective at bat, while also piling up eight stolen bases.
"After yesterday, we talked to the boys about their approach; they had better mental focus at the plate this time," said Raiders coach Trent Kelley, whose defense picked a couple runners off to help the effort. "Parker is a super composed kid and stays within himself, and that's what you like about him. He puts the ball in play and trusts his defense to make the plays, and that defense made the plays when he needed them."
"I just try to not worry about them getting hits -- I just go right back at them. (The pickoffs) definitely help; they can't score runs if they are not on base, and it builds momentum because it's a good play," Thomas said. "Instead of just scoring a run or two, we battled offensively and did what we needed to do."
The Raiders took a 1-0 lead in the second; pinch runner Kobi Newton stole two bases and scored on a sacrifice fly from Luke Bajaj. East Cobb countered with two runs in the top of the third as Aiden Bible scored on a passed ball and Gavin Savage came across on a sacrifice fly by Justin Schooler.
Weston Ballard doubled and scored for the Raiders as they plated two in the third; he also scored on the end of a double steal in the fourth as his team kept up the pressure. Two more runs came across in the fifth, with Brent Lee's grounder bringing in one run and Dasan Hill scoring on a wild pitch.
"Yesterday, we were just backing off the plate, couldn't hit the outside pitch. We had to get to that outside pitch today, and we did that in most of our at-bats," Ballard said. "I got one change-up today and smoked it down third base, and stealing-wise ... I had to turn on the burners because I knew I wasn't the fastest. If I can get there, I'll do it."
In the sixth, Raiders reliever Bajaj gave up a hit and a walk, and runners were on second and third with two outs. He made the pitch he needed and got a fly ball to right field to end the game.
by Thomas Hoffman
The 2018 US Club Nationals marks the first appearance for the North Carolina-based Dirtbags. With wins over 6-4-3 DP and Central Alabama Nationals, the 10u Dirtbags squad was looking for a perfect 3-0 start against the Georgia Bombers.
Behind stellar pitching and a spotless defense, the Dirtbags prevailed, 8-0, to finish pool play a perfect 3-0.
“We talked about that if we play the way that we’re capable of, we can beat anyone in the tournament,” said head coach Everett Hancock. “We try not to focus too much on other teams and what they’re doing, we try to just worry about our performance one game at a time.”
After Wednesday’s 2-0 splash into the tournament, the Dirtbags didn’t waste any time jumping out to an early lead against the Bombers. Hudson Tuttle led the game off with a hit-by-pitch, scampered to second base on a passed ball all before Amos Rich drove him home with an RBI-single. Two batters later, Cam Sharpe added a second run with an RBI-double.
“I wasn’t swinging it very well all season long,” said Sharpe. “When I came to this tournament, I was really focused on just making good swings, getting on base and helping out my team.”
Sharpe’s laser focus would result in a 3-3 day at the plate with two runs scored and a double.
On the mound, the attention turned toward Gavin Washburn. Washburn gave up a hit to the second batter he faced, but relying heavily on his defense behind him, pumped strikes down the middle to force a pop out and ground out to end the inning.
“He’s a guy that doesn’t force a lot of strikeouts but throws a lot of strikes,” said Hancock. “There’s a lot to be said about a kid, especially at 10 years old, who can put so much trust that the guys behind him will make plays.”
Inning after inning, Washburn teased Bomber batters, allowing them to put the ball in play, only to be fooled by the playmakers in the field. Notably, in the fifth inning, Hudson Tuttle made a highlight-worthy play in short, diving to his right to keep Georgia from sniffing any momentum.
“My team is really good,” Washburn said. “They have my back at all times. I really wanted to win this game and pitch well. I knew I couldn’t do it without relying on guys like Hudson to make plays.”
The Dirtbags added a third run in the top of the second inning on a CJ AuBuchon double but broke the game open in the top of the third. Loading the bases on three consecutive base hits, Washburn, Jacob Fortson and Luke Strittmatter all came through with an RBI to take a commanding 6-0 lead.
“We have that confidence really rolling,” said Washburn. “We had already won two games and when we got up by a couple of runs, we weren’t about to let a third slip past us.”
Washburn’s single in the fifth pushed the eighth run across for the Dirtbags, and then he promptly set down the Bombers in the bottom half to close out the contest, 8-0.
“We’re in a great spot after today,” said Sharpe. “Going forward, we have to have the same mentality as these last couple of games. When a bad play happens, take 30 seconds and flush it, and move forward.”
A 3-0 record and a high run differential will guarantee the Dirtbags a place in the 10u Championship bracket. Squaring off against teams and organizations that are far more familiar with the US Club Nationals format, the opening two days for the Dirtbags have been all that more impressive.
“I just want to them to believe that they can do it,” Hancock said. “Sometimes they act like typical 10 year olds, but hopefully they know that they’re in the top six and they can see the goal right there ahead of them.”
by Thomas Hoffman
After taking in some of the fun festivities during US Club Nationals kick-off day at the Battery Atlanta on Tuesday, the 14u squad from SBA Canes had almost all of Wednesday to think about its opening matchup against Five Star National. Falling behind early, the Canes revved up the intensity, scoring eight unanswered runs to start their 2018 campaign off with a win, 8-3.
“The key for us today was focus,” said head coach Rafael Mendez. “Focus has been the common denominator for us this year. When we lose focus, we lose at-bats. From pitch one, we were locked in from the start and that took us to the next level.”
Coming off an impressive 9-2 victory over Slammers Asnicar, Five Star National looked to be in the same form, scoring three runs in the top half of the first innings. Tanner Cotton highlighted the frame with a two-RBI triple.
SBA struck back in the bottom of the second inning. With two runners on base and one out, Dylan Little delivered an RBI double to score the Cane’s first run. Two batters later, Luke Holland equaled Little’s effort with an RBI double of his own. In total, SBA rallied to tie the score with three momentum-swinging runs.
“We started off a little slow there,” said Holland. “When that happens, you just have to get on base and help the team out as much as you can.”
The Canes went right back to work in the top of the third, leading off with back-to-back walks. By the time Carson Hegele came to the plate, Bryce Meachem and Carson Dunlap were on second and third base, respectively. Hegele smashed a ball to center field, just deep enough to bring Meachem home for a sacrifice fly. SBA would add a second run in the inning on a balk, giving the Canes a two-run lead, 5-0.
Sensing a turning point in the game, Mendez turned to Donovan Henkel to control things on the mound.
“He’s been solid all year for us,” said Mendez. “It was the perfect time to show Five Star a different look.”
Henkel was dominant from the moment he stepped on the rubber. He kicked his appearance off with four consecutive strikeouts. In three innings of work, Henkel gobbled up seven strikeouts and gave up just one hit and one walk.
“Right away, I liked how I could throw a breaking ball for a first-pitch strike,” said Henkel. “When I didn’t have to rely on just a fastball, I was able to keep them off balance.”
Directing everything from behind the plate was catcher Dylan Little. Little began the day guiding Andrew Setlinger through the first three innings before seeing Henkel on the bump.
“All of our pitchers are great to work with,” said Little. “Donovan and I have that pitch-catcher connection. It’s one of the best relationships I have. We read off of each other extremely well.”
It was Little who came the plate in the sixth inning, still leading 5-3 with a chance to break the game open. Little added to his RBI double from back in the second with a 2-RBI single. Three batters later, Little would trot home on a bases-loaded walk right before the two-hour time limit took effect, ending the contest, 8-3.
SBA will face two more pool play matchups before the Championship Bracket begins in Friday. Opening with a win, puts the Canes in prime position in a talent-filled pool for a high seed.
“I have been here before and the heat is definitely something we’ll have to deal with,” said Mendez. “We have to keep everyone fresh. Everyone is ready to play and as long as they are ready to play, when I call their name, we should be in good shape.”
by Jason Hanes
Trying to bounce back after a tough loss in their opening game, Colorado Slammers 13u found its offense in a big way, earning a 14-2 win over the Dallas Raiders in pool play at the Triple Crown U.S. Club Nationals Wednesday afternoon.
"The kids were patient in the box," said Slammers head coach Darin Carr. "The zones today were tight, but they were consistent. Our kids did a good job of being patient, waiting on their pitch, and then banging it out when they got it."
The Slammers got the scoring started in the home half of the first with four runs touching the plate. Ashtin Gilio, Ashton Perry, and Connor Cholez each had extra-base hits with one out to start the hitting spree. After a Thomas Munch RBI single to left made it 3-0, Gavin Hunt's squibber down the line at third stopped in fair territory and allowed the fourth run to come home.
Dallas would get on the board in the top of the second thanks to Walker DeBord and James Hines drawing bases loaded walks to cut the lead in half, 4-2.
In the bottom of the second, the flood gates would open and the Slammers would shut the door with a nine-run frame. Gilio and Perry would each plate a run, then Cholez punched a shot into left field for a two-run single to make it 8-2 with still no one out in the inning.
Cholez knew if he was patient, his pitches would come during his at-bats. "I knew I would get a strike, even if the pitcher was being inconsistent," Cholez said. "So I took the fastball [in the first at-bat] and pulled that one, and then went opposite field on the other one."
Austin Carr, Gavin Hunt, and Sawyer Amato would each add an RBI in the inning, with two errors leading to two other runs as the score sat at 13-2 after the second. An error allowed the Slammers to tack on another run in the third. The game would come to a time limit conclusion one inning later.
"It's a big win for us," Cholez said. "A lot of teams can shut down when they go 0-2. To get a win, no matter the competition, was really important."
"We probably should have won our first game," coach Carr said, "but this group is a resilient bunch. They knew they needed to wash away that first game and come back and go 1-1 on the day."
The Slammers will continue pool play Thursday morning against Dallas Tigers East. The Dallas Raiders close their Wednesday against the Canes before facing 6-4-3 DP Thursday morning.
by Kyle Koso
One high-voltage inning certainly felt good for the 11u SBA Canes (SC), but the team really got a charge by showing it had a lot more sizzle to come.
The Canes kicked off their run at the U. S. Club Nationals on Wednesday with a 13-3 run-rule victory over the Lonestar Elite (TX) at East Cobb Park, taking a 4-0 lead and then responding when Lonestar cut the advantage to 4-3. Six different batters had at least one RBI for the Canes, who plated two runs in the second, two in the third and five in the fourth to close out the matchup.
Luke St. John threw three innings of solid relief to get the win, getting three straight outs in the second, then allowing two hits the rest of the way.
"We ask guys who come into pitch in big situations to step up, fill the strike zone, and Luke did a fantastic job. He gave us some quality outs, quality innings and gave the guys some confidence to go out and win the ball game," said SBA coach Ross Blankinship. "We are very deep in the order, and we always seem to be productive with two outs, our situational hitting. We teach that at SBA."
"I was looking to throw strikes and let my defense go to work," St. John said. "The offense was hitting the ball good, and that let me know they had my back and I could pitch OK and still be up."
Bennett Holder had a two-run, two-out single in the first inning that capped the frame and sent SBA up, 4-0. Lonestar responded with three runs, two coming on a double from Jack Tyndall. Next time up, SBA got a RBI double from Trey Schubert and a two-out hit from Carter Blankinship, and two more runs were scored in the third when Macon Leppert doubled and scored on a groundout from Ezra Taylor, and Nick Soul walked and scored on a two-out single from Gavin Aldredge.
In the fourth, four walks gave SBA the fuel needed to put the game away, and Holder's single brought in the 13th run that sealed the verdict.
"I've been pretty good, and I've been on a hot streak the last two weekends," Holder said. "Luke came out of the inning, runner on second with no outs and didn't give up a run. That was pretty clutch."
Brady Quinn and Traigh Perry also had doubles for Lonestar.
by Thomas Hoffman
Making its first appearance in the Triple Crown US Club Nationals, Lonestar Elite 14u expected to see good baseball from great teams. What the Texas natives may not have expected was a sharp, 5-0, opening win over Slammers Select to kick the elite championship off on the right foot.
“This is a special group of guys that I’ve coached for a long time,” said head coach Jacob Madrid. “Our season didn’t start until February, but these guys were out practicing in January. The extra time together has led them to understand their respective roles and play them well.”
Daniel Rodriguez’s role on Tuesday morning in East Cobb, GA was that of the starting pitcher, one Rodriguez has happy to fill. The Young right-hander was confident from the get go, setting down the first nine batters he faced.
“I had a great warmup with Zach (Zavala),” Rodriguez said. “Once I got into a rhythm, I really started to feel good out there.”
Rodriguez’s rhythm was hard to dismiss. Proponents of regulation to make baseball a faster game would have no qualms with Lonestar’s ace. NASCAR pit stops have taken more time than Rodriguez did between pitches. Through three innings, he had compiled six strikeouts and given up just one.
In the top of the third inning, Rodriguez had a chance to help himself out with his catcher Zach Zavala standing on third base with just one out. Rodriguez lifted a fly ball to the opposite field in right, allowing Zavala to creep home to give Lonestar the lead, 1-0.
Lonestar looked for a little insurance in very next inning. Ethan Garcia delivered a double, giving Tyler Hubbard the chance to knock him in with an RBI single, which he did in the very next at-bat. Hubbard wouldn’t waste any time on the bases himself, coming around for Lonestar’s third run of the contest on a throwing error from Slammers Select.
“We did a bunch of the little things well today,” said Madrid. “When we put pressure on teams like we did today, I’m feel like the momentum is eventually going to swing our way.”
As the second half of the ballgame approached, Rodriguez relied less on his fastball and more on his defense. Recording just one strikeout between the fourth and sixth innings, the Lonestar fielders tallied the eight putouts, half of which coming from shortstop Nico Ruedas.
“We all made these plays a thousand times in practice,” Ruedas explained. “Coach Madrid does a great job making us do drills to simulate live game action. I’m at the facility practicing those plays every chance I get so when I get in a game it’s second nature.”
“It’s amazing to pitch in front of these guys,” said Rodriguez. “I know every time a ball is put on the ground, they are probably going to make a play.”
Lonestar loaded the bases in the top of the seventh inning. After two consecutive fielder’s choices, Cade Urbanski ultimately rocketed a double to left field, giving his team a little extra breathing room, 5-0.
Six full innings of shutout baseball let Madrid turn the keys over to Luke Jackson in the final frame. Jackson gave up a hit to the first hitter he saw but retaliated with a strikeout and back-to-back grounders to himself to close out Lonestar’s first win at US Club Nationals.
“We just have to keep our minds focused on the game ahead,” said Ruedas. “We grabbed a little confidence with this win and now we need to keep it going.”
Madrid and his squad will face the Georgia Bombers in the second of three pool play games before the 14u Championship bracket begins.
“I can always tell how these boys are going to play by how loose they are,” said Madrid. “When baseball is fun, it’s easy to be confident about what you’re going to put on the field.”