WESTFIELD – It was a like a heavyweight boxing match.
A jab here a jab there, a sidestep and a bob and weave, but it was a sixth-inning explosion that proved to be Tri-Valley, California’s knockout blow.
Tri Valley upended Tri-County (Maine), 9-3, in a Babe Ruth Baseball 14-Year-Old World Series semifinal Wednesday night at Bullens Field to land the final spot in Thursday’s championship game. First pitch is at 6 p.m.
“I wouldn’t really call it a rivalry,” said Tri Valley’s Jack Grant, who went 2-for-2 with two walks, two runs, and three RBIs. “We played each other a few times. It was a good battle, a good game.”
It may not be a full-blown rivalry just yet, but Wednesday night’s match-up of behemoths rivaled any recent Red Sox-Yankees contest of late.
It has been somewhat of a one-sided affair for Tri Valley, who blew out Tri-County (Maine) 20-0 in the 13-year-old World Series matchup a year ago. Several of the same players remain, and it should be noted though that Tri County, in fact, won an earlier meeting against Tri Valley (California) in pool play last year.
On Wednesday, both pitchers were at the top of their games early – Tri-County, Maine’s Janek Luksza and Tri Valley, California’s Josh Anderson cruised for a bit with both teams exchanging counter punches for some time.
Tri Valley made its move in the bottom of the fourth.
Jack Grant walked to begin the fourth, advanced to second on a Thomas Gavello sac-bunt, and scored on Max Masajlo’s single to shallow right-center field.
With two outs in the top of the fifth, Jonny Pruett belted a booming double to center field. Cameron Godbois moved Pruett into scoring position by roping a hard ground ball to right field. An outfield error resulted in a 1-1 tie.
The Pacific Southwest’s best 14-year-old Babe Ruth squad responded with a two-out rally of its own.
Michael O’Hara and Joey Battilega singled, and Grant walked to load the bases for Tri Valley. Then Gavello flared a two-run single to shallow left-center field, just beyond the grasp of the shortstop’s glove.
Tri-County would not go quietly into the night.
In the top of the sixth, Charlie Morton and Luksza hit consecutive one-out singles. With two outs, Rodney Bean singled to load the bases. Wyatt Williamson followed with a two-run double that landed just inside the left field line.
Then came Tri Valley’s knockout punch.
Sheppard and Masajlo singled, and Chevalier reached on a bunt single to load the bases for Tri-Valley in the bottom of the sixth. After a successful pickoff at first base, Jackson was hit by a pitch to re-load the bases. O’Hara knocked an RBI hit through the right side, and Battilega hit one to the left to make it 6-3. Grant crushed a bases-clearing double to deep left field for a 9-3 advantage.
Evan Chavalier came on to close out the final 1 1-3 innings to end it.
WESTFIELD – Bismarck (North Dakota) pitcher Cade Feeney scattered four hits over six innings, averaging a K an inning, and Luke Domres delivered the big hit – a three-run double in the first – en route to a convincing 9-1 win over Atlantic Shore (N.J.) in the first of two Babe Ruth Baseball semifinal games Wednesday at Bullens Field.
It was a rather routine first inning for Feeney, who was in control throughout.
Feeney retired two of the first three batters he faced, striking out two, including the clean-up hitter, and forcing a ground out. Anthony Santamaria had the lone hit for Atlantic Shore (N.J.).
Bismarck unleashed an offensive barrage in the home half of the first to seize control.
Skylar Riedinger hit a lead-off single, Darin Nolz walked, and Cade Feeney singled to load the bases. Connor Hanson reached on an error, allowing Riedinger to cross home plate for the first Bismarck run. Domres (3-for-3) followed with a bases-clearing, three-run double to deep left center field, steering across three runs for a 4-0 lead.
If there was any question Feeney would relax on the mound, that question was answered quickly as the Bismarck pitcher forced the inning’s lead-off hitter into a ground out, and struck out the next two.
It was the offense’s turn in the third. Miller drove a ball to left field for an RBI single, and a 5-0 lead. It could have been much worse, but pitcher Alec Sachais escaped a bases-loaded jam with no outs. Sachais forced two groundouts and a fly out to end the threat.
“(The) runs in the first inning just helped me,” Feeney said. “Pitching was easy.”
Feeney maintained impressive command over the last several innings, and the team’s offense continued to pile up the runs.
Bismarck tacked on three more runs in the sixth, courtesy of a Hanson two-run single, and run-scoring error.
“I was just very happy today with our game play,” Feeney said. “It’s always awesome when your pitching and you know you got one of the best defenses in the nation behind you.”
Atlantic Shore managed a run late against the Bismarck bullpen, but it was too little too late.
Bismarck advances to play the winner of Tri-County (Maine)-Tri-Valley (California). The World Series championship will be played Thursday at 6 p.m. Tickets for the title game are free of charge.
WESTFIELD – It’s not quite Yankees-Red Sox, but for Tri-County (Maine) and Tri Valley (California), their meetings are quickly becoming quite the attraction.
Cody Allen delivered the shot heard round the Whip City, plating two runs in the top of the seventh with a hard hit ball through the left side to lead Tri-County past Janesville (Wisconsin) 4-2 in a Babe Ruth Baseball 14-Year-Old World Series game Tuesday at Bullens Field.
The win eliminated Janesville, setting up a rematch of last year’s 13-year-old final between Tri-County and Tri Valley, which California won 20-0. Many of those same players currently play for the 14-year-old team.
Tri-County and Tri Valley will meet in the second semifinal Wednesday at 7 p.m. Atlantic Shore (N.J.)-Bismarck (N.D.) will begin at 4:30.
“I think we’re going to come out and play the best we’ve every played in our life, and we’ll get the win,” said Allen, whose team actually defeated Tri Valley early in the opening rounds of last year’s 13-year-old World Series.
Allen may have provided the offensive highlight, but it was starting pitcher Wyatt Williamson who held off a pesky Janesville squad.
Williamson tossed a complete-game, six-hitter. The Tri-County pitcher struck out two batters and walked none.
“I threw a lot of changeups and mixed in a few curveballs,” Williamson said. “I kept the ball low so I got a lot of grounders.”
Williamson said his team will need to a similar effort to advance even further in this year’s World Series.
“We’re going to have to play good to beat (Tri Valley),” Williamson said. “We’re going to have to play our ‘A’ game.”
Tri-County delivered an A-mazing effort against Janesville on Tuesday. The New England Regional champs came out swinging and never looked back.
Charlie Morton roped a double in the game’s opening inning, and Janek Luksza walked in the first inning, but Janesville (WI) pitcher Micah Overley managed to get out of the jam unscathed.
Janesville put two runners on with two outs in the bottom half of the inning with consecutive singles from Eric Hughes and Overley. Williamson responded to the challenge though, keeping the game scoreless.
The teams remained deadlocked early, even matching runs in the third.
In the third inning, Allen reached second base on a two-out error, moved to third on a Jonny Pruett single, and scored on a wild pitch to put Tri-County out front 1-0.
Tegan Christiansen was hit by a pitch to lead off the bottom half of the inning for Janesville. Christiansen stole second base, advanced to third and scored on consecutive sacrifices to the knot the game 1-1.
In the top of the fourth inning, Dylan Desroches walked, Cameron Godbois singled, and Ayden DeSanctis advanced the runners into scoring position with a sacrifice. Rodney Bean hit a one-out, sac-fly to help Tri-County reclaim the lead, 2-1.
Janesville’s Dalton Madsen singled to lead off the bottom of the fifth. Madsen advanced on a sacrifice, moved to third on a Colin Hageman single, and scored on a Christiansen sac-fly to tie it 2-2.
The score remained until Allen’s big hit in the seventh.
CHAMPIONSHIP FREE FOR ALL: Babe Ruth officials have announced that tickets for Thursday’s championship will be free. First pitch is set for 6 p.m. … Also, on Thursday, two-time Olympic women’s hockey silver medalist and Boston Pride defenseman, Kacey Bellamy, will be on hand to meet and greet the public from 5:30-6:30 p.m. Kacey’s sister, Lindsey, will sing the national anthem.