Winning the World
Mound Time's 14-year-old all-stars win the Babe Ruth World Series
GLEN ALLEN - Mound Time always believed.
Back when the 14-year-old Babe Ruth all-star team came up short in the Northern Oregon state tournament, the Mound Time Bandits still believed.
When the team fell behind 9-3 in the championship game of the Pacific Northwest Regional Tournament, Mound Time still believed.
And when the Bandits dropped two straight pool play games at the World Series, the team still believed.
The Bandits proved to themselves - and to the rest of the world - that they were right to do so.
Mound Time finished off its stirring run through the Babe Ruth World Series in Glen Allen, Va., by beating the host team 5-4 in Friday's Series championship at Glen Allen Stadium.
'It was awesome,' said Mound Time's James Armstrong, who pitched a complete-game four-hitter in the championship. 'It was an incredible experience.'
'It was amazing,' said Mound Time first baseman Zane Chitwood, who knocked in the game-winning run with a seventh-inning single. 'All the hours, all the hard work since January were worth it.'
'It was a great experience. I'm so proud of the boys,' added Mound Time manager Greg Cero. 'It was two great teams battling (in the championship). You couldn't ask for more.'
The title game - its start time moved up a couple hours to avoid any impact from Hurricane Irene - was a back-and-forth battle between twice-beaten Mound Time and undefeated Glen Allen. The Bandits struck first in the finale, pushing across two runs in the top of the first inning when Josh Lewellen singled, advanced on Rob Lavey's walk and Josh Hill's bunt, then scored on Matt Orcutt's sacrifice fly. Lavey then came home when Parker Stidham doubled to left-center with two outs.
Mound Time made it 3-0 in the top of the third when Lavey singled with one out, took second on Hill's hit, then scored when Orcutt doubled to right-center.
But Glen Allen, buoyed by its home crowd contingent of 800+ fans, wasn't going to go down without a fight. Shut down for the first two innings by Armstrong, Glen Allen got a leadoff walk in the bottom of the third by Kaleb Butler, a Trent Kessler single, and a sacrifice fly to center from Austin Slough to make it 3-1.
The Bandits, after knocking Glen Allen starter Chesdin Harrington from the game in the third, went cold at the plate against reliever Brett Ayer and wouldn't score again until the seventh.
That opened the door for Glen Allen's hitters, who brought home two runs in the fifth to tie the game at 3-3. Kessler was hit by a pitch to open the fifth, and he came home two batters later on Slough's sacrifice fly. Glen Allen's other run came home on Eric Neiman's two-out double to center.
Mound Time responded in the top of the seventh, though, getting a leadoff walk by Lavey that ended Ayer's appearance, then a walk by Hill against Kessler. Grant Galligan, on to run for Lavey, escaped a rundown to reach third, then scored on a wild pitch to put his team up 4-3.
Hill stole second, then moved to third on the wild pitch that scored Galligan with two outs. That brought Chitwood to the plate, and the Bandits' first baseman came through with a single up the middle to plate Hill with his team's fifth run.
'I had two strikes on me and I was just looking for a pitch I could drive,' Chitwood said. 'I got a fastball I thought I could handle and I ended up driving it over the shortstop's head.'
And the Bandits needed that run. Glen Allen got a one-out single in the bottom of the seventh from Matt Kennedy, Kennedy moved up on a wild pitch, then scored on Neiman's hard-hit single to center. But Armstrong settled himself, got Harrington on a fly to left for the second out, then struck out Winston Frick to end the game with a 5-4 win.
'I can still picture that last pitch for that strikeout to end the game and it still gives me chills,' Armstrong said. 'It was incredible.'
And that set off a spirited celebration that Mound Time will likely remember for a long, long time.
'It was a blur after (Armstrong) wound up for that last pitch,' Stidham said. 'It couldn't be any better.'
It was amazing,' Chitwood said. 'Everybody just ran out onto the field and it was crazy.'
'It was just chaos and relief' at the end of the game, Cero said. 'When he got that last out, the coaches hugged each other and the kids had a great dog pile.'
Armstrong went the distance on the mound, allowing four runs on just four hits and four walks while striking out three.
According to Cero, Armstrong's performance was one of the keys to the victory.
'He deserves all the credit in the world,' Cero said. 'He asked for the opportunity and
I'm glad we gave it to him.'
For the game, Lewellen went 2-for-4 and scored once, Lavey was 1-for-1, walked twice and scored three times, Hill was 1-for-3 and scored once, Stidham and Orcutt both doubled and knocked in one run apiece, Chitwood was 1-for-4 with one RBI, and Armstrong and Nick Pullen added one hit each.