With a five-run outburst in the first inning, the Showtime (WA) 14u squad certainly had good reason for feeling confident Wednesday in its second game of the U.S. Club Nationals in Atlanta.
But while those runs were key, a determination to keep on pushing really made the difference against the East Cobb (GA) Astros, and that allowed Showtime to register a 9-6 victory, putting them at 2-0 after the first day of pool play. With their 4-2 victory over the Dallas Patriots earlier in the day, Showtime is just one of three squads in the nine-team bracket to start 2-0 and have an inside track on one of the top six seeds that will advance to the championship bracket.
Against the Astros, pitcher Jordan Rumsey pitched four solid innings to get the win, and the Showtime defense turned a critical double play in the top of the sixth inning behind reliever Kyle Russell to end an Astros rally.
“I knew they could hit the fastball, because I watched them in an earlier game, so I tried to keep it outside then mix it up with the curveball,” said Rumsey, who also doubled, scored twice and drove in a run. “We’re feeling pretty great. Last year in San Diego, we won four in a row (at a tournament), and we went pretty far. I think this year we can go ever further.”
The first seven batters for Showtime reached base in the first inning, with the final run coming across on a sacrifice fly by Tyrique Lewis. East Cobb closed the margin to 5-3, then 6-4, then 7-5, but Showtime always had an answer.
The game ultimately was decided as Showtime batted in the bottom of the sixth. Riley Oswald came up with the bases loaded and one out, and he flicked a single to right field to score two runs. A few minutes later, the game was called because of the time limit, and Showtime left the field on a high note, hanging in just fine with the level of play at the event.
“We knew East Cobb was a good team, and with all those big dudes, we had to keep grinding no matter how much we were up,” said Oswald, who had singled twice before his key at-bat in the sixth. “I took one pitch right down the middle in that last at-bat, so I knew if I got another one, I had to make sure to keep my hands back and drive it somewhere, hopefully to right field. We’re pretty excited, but we have to be ready to come out tomorrow and take care of business again.”
For the Astros, Spencer Keefe drove in two runs and pitched well in relief; Alex Espinel and Mickey Meguiar both singled and scored in the fifth inning. For Showtime, Cameron Green had a two-run double in the first inning, Lewis drove in two runs, and Bryan Falk reached base four times, scoring once.
“That’s just the way this team plays – we never feel like an underdog. We push hard and grind hard, and we stay together so good things will happen,” said Showtime coach Lance Hayes. “We’ll come in tomorrow and do the same thing. We got that groundball when we needed it, and execution like that is huge.
“Riley has been a grinder for us. He is our 7-hole hitter, and he sees a lot of fastballs. He takes advantage of that; he’s a good hitter, and that’s why we have him there.”
The other 14u teams to start the US Club Nationals at 2-0 were the Dallas Tigers and the SBA Canes. Showtime will play 6-4-3 DP to start Thursday morning, then finish pool play against the Tigers.