Mound Time starts 2-1 in the 14-year-old Babe Ruth World Series in Glen Allen, Va.
GLEN ALLEN, Va. - One bad inning.
That was all that stood between Mound Time and a 3-0 record in pool play at the Babe Ruth World Series for 14-year-olds.
But that one bad inning - an eight-run first by Mobile, Ala., made all the difference in the world in Mound Time's 9-4 loss on Tuesday at Glen Allen Stadium.
Despite that result, Mound Time's players remained confident of their abilities, and confident of their chances in the Series. Mound Time, which finished pool play yesterday against Newton, Mass., after the Valley Times' press deadline, is likely to finish either second or third in the American Division pool, and will try to play its way into a semifinal berth with a game at either 5 or 7 p.m. today (Thursday) EDT.
The Series semifinals are set for 10 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. EDT on Friday, while the tournament championship is set for 7:30 p.m. EDT Friday.
'I feel good about our chances,' said Mound Time pitcher/catcher James Armstrong, who went 2-for-2 against Mobile and also threw 5-2/3 innings of relief, allowing two runs on four hits and one walk while striking out six. 'I hope we win the championship. It's been a goal of mine for a long time to win the World Series. I think we can do it.'
'We just need to (win again). We can still come back and win the whole thing,' said Mound Time catcher Nick Pullen, who went 1-for-3 against Mobile and knocked in a run.
That said, Mobile attacked Mound Time with a vengeance on Tuesday. Hill, Mound Time's starting pitcher, got the inning's first out, but didn't have much success after that. He allowed two walks, a single and a run, then notched a strikeout and appeared to be on the edge of an early escape.
But Mobile's John Michael Shirley reached base on that strikeout, allowing a second run to score and Mobile was off and running. From there, Chase Gurley hit an RBI single up the middle, Payton Robinson walked and Adam Abrams singled to right to plate two more runs and end Hill's day on the mound.
Armstrong took over from
there and gave up a single to Colby Rouse, got a pop-up for the second out, then allowed a three-run double down the left field line to JoJo Taylor for that 8-0 lead.
'We had a lot of errors and a couple walks that just killed us,' Pullen said. 'But I felt like we still would have had a chance if we'd had a little more heart.'
Mound Time didn't give up, though. Parker Stidham led off the second with a single and scored later on a passed ball to make it 8-1. Then, in the third, Mound Time tacked on two more when Rob Lavey walked, advanced on a Hill single and scored on Matt Orcutt's sacrifice fly. Hill then moved to third on a wild pitch and scored on a Stidham double to center.
But Mobile added its final run in the fourth, and Mound Time's final run in the fifth - which came when Orcutt singled and scored on a Pullen double - was too little, too late.
Still, Mound Time left convinced it could play with -
and beat - Mobile or any other team in the tournament.
'I think it was good to get that loss out of the way,' Lavey said. 'I think we can still with the whole thing.'
'This might have been a good thing for us,' Hill agreed. 'We'll see that we're not good enough to play the way we did today.
Stidham and Armstrong were the only Mound Time players with more than one hit, Stidham going 2-for-4 with one run scored and one RBI, while Armstrong was 2-for-2. Orcutt went 1-for-3, scored once and drove in one run, while Hill was 1-for-3 and scored once, and Pullen went 1-for-3 and knocked in one.