Despite loss, Mid-County hangs on, keeps No. 1 spot

Published 6:18 pm Thursday, August 10, 2017

By Steven Smith
Special to the News

EPHRATA, ARIZ. – One day earlier, Ben Rogers said he was expecting “Johnny Whole-Staff” to pitch the final pool play game at the 2017 Senior Babe Ruth World Series.
Johnny became three guys on Wednesday, and they struggled to slow down ProHammer Baseball of Tucson, Ariz.
The Texans were unable to slow down the bats of a previously winless Arizona club and dropped a questionable decision to the Pacific Southwest regional champions. Mid-County, the Southwest regional winners, finish play in the National division at 3-1.
In the bright side, Mid-County had already locked up the No. 1 berth in the pool and will move into the series semifinals, putting them one win away from playing for the national title on Saturday. Mid-County will face the winner of a quarterfinal game Thursday between the third-place team from the National pool (Tucson or Blue Lick, Kentucky) and the No. 2 team from the American pool (likely the host team, the Columbia Basin (Washington) River Dogs).
Rogers decided to save his best arms for pitching duties this weekend, so three different players worked the mound against Tucson. Mid-County started with Kyler Bumstead, who did OK until the Arizona club tagged him for four hits and four runs in the third inning.
Then came Brandon Cluck in the top of the fourth – he faced four batters and surrendered two more runs. Conor McGrath finished the ballgame on the mound, giving up a run in the sixth inning and two more in the seventh.
“We went with kids who haven’t thrown for us this season, and Arizona hit the ball well,” said Rogers. “We kind of got deflated after the fourth inning, but they battled back. We just got too far behind – I’ll take the blame because we just weren’t prepared.”
After taking the 4-0 lead in the third inning, the ProHammer team (sponsored by a bat company in Tucson) put three more run up in the fourth frame, pushing out to a 7-0 edge. Mid-County matched Tucson in that inning, getting doubles from Logan LeJeune and Burke Badon and two sacrifice flies to cut the deficit to 7-3.
Mid-County’s final run came in the sixth inning when Zack Friesz doubled and came around to score on a single from Zack Clark.
Rogers said his team will be back at Johnson-O’Brien Stadium Friday night at 9:30 p.m. to watch the second quarterfinal game “so we know who we have to play,” in the semifinals. Until then, Rogers said he has no plans to practice before Friday’s contest.
“I don’t want our guys seeing a baseball until we come out to watch Thursday,” he said. “This was actually a good loss for us. Now they’re angry – they feel like they got embarrassed, and they did.”

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