Bandits avenge loss and win World Series semi

The local all-stars ride Parker Stidham's stellar pitching to a 3-0 victory
by: Miles Vance MAKE THE PLAY — Mound Time second baseman Rob Lavey (shown here at the Pacific Northwest Regionals) and his teammates beat Newton, Mass., 3-0 in the Babe Ruth World Series on Friday.

GLEN ALLEN - World Series championships don't come easy.

Mound Time found that out in spades on Friday, battling past a tough team from Newton, Mass., 3-0 in the Series semifinal at Glen Allen Stadium to earn a berth in the tournament finale. In the process, the Bandits also avenged one of their two pool play losses, a 5-1 defeat on Aug. 24.

Mound Time built its victory on a dominating pitching performance by Parker Stidham and a fast start that gave the team a 2-0 lead before Newton ever stepped to the plate.

For the game, Stidham faced 30 batters and didn't allow a run, gave up just four hits and two walks, and struck out eight.

'It was a good day,' Stidham said. 'I had a good feel for the mound. I had all my pitches working for me and the run support really helped.'

'He's our best big-game pitcher. He was our guy,' Mound Time manager Greg Cero said of Stidham. 'The kids didn't think they could lose with him on the mound. We felt very good about it.'

Mound Time started fast in this one too, pushing across two runs in the top of the first to take a lead the team would never surrender. Josh Lewellen singled to open the game, stole second and third, then was joined on base when Newton fumbled away Josh Hill's grounder. Stidham did the rest with two outs, singling to left to give his team a 2-0 lead.

But Newton starter Benny Wanger settled down after that, and Mound Time managed just single baserunners in the second, fourth and sixth innings and didn't score again until the top of the seventh. There, Nick Pullen singled to center with one out, advanced when Wanger threw the ball away on Ryan Kaser's grounder, took third on Josh Lewellen's fielder's choice, then scored on a double steal for the final 3-0 margin.

Stidham, meanwhile, was solid as a rock all day long. While he managed just one 1-2-3 inning in the game, Stidham made all the big pitches when he needed. Newton managed two baserunners each in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings, but Stidham killed off the threat in the fourth with a groundout, stranded another runner at third in the fifth, then struck out three straight batters to keep Newton scoreless in the sixth.

'We got those first two runs across and it made me feel better,' Stidham explained.

'Parker had an amazing day,' said third baseman James Armstrong, who had one of his team's four hits against Wanger. 'His stuff was on.'

'That was big,' Cero said of Stidham's performance.

Lewellen, Stidham, Nick Pullen and Armstrong had Mound Time's four hits. Wanger allowed three runs (none earned) on four hits and one walk while striking out four.