Washington can’t seal the deal|New Bern takes two to win tournament

Published 6:14 am Thursday, July 9, 2009

Staff Writer

Before Wednesday night, the Washington 15U Jr. Babe Ruth baseball all-star team had been undefeated in District 6 tournament play. That changed in a hurry.
Feeding off momentum from a Tuesday night 21-2 shellacking of the Crystal Coast all-star team to advance to the championship round, the New Bern all-stars jumped out to an early 5-0 lead over Washington in the first game of the night at the Susiegray McConnell Sports Complex and never looked back.
New Bern got things going in the 2nd inning following a leadoff walk to cleanup hitter Ryan Miller. With Miller getting a large lead at first, Washington’s pitcher threw a pick off attempt that sailed wide of first baseman Blake Beddard. Jake Brinson followed with a single up the middle that easily scored Brinson from second. Ethan Hewson poked a single through the left side to score Brinson. An aggressive New Bern coaching staff sent Hewson on the next pitch. Washington’s catcher sailed the throw attempt and Hewson trotted into third base.
No. 8 hitter Austin Norman kept the inning alive in well by reaching first on a throwing error by Washington’s third baseman, scoring Hewson in the process.
After James Corcoran followed with a fielder’s choice, Will Sutton hit a single by Washington’s diving shortstop, moving Corcoran to third. No. 2 hitter Kyle Smith hit a single through the hole at short, scoring Corcoran. Sutton would come in on a Miller single to leave the damage at five runs.
Washington scored its only run of the game thanks to some uncharacteristically bad fielding by New Bern in the top of the sixth. With New Bern up 7-0, Washington’s No. 9 hitter, Will Masten, reached first on a pair of errors by New Bern’s shortstop. Leadoff hitter Austin Mitchell followed by legging out an infield hit to the beleaguered shortstop. Washington sent the speedy Mitchell from first, and New Bern’s catcher overthrew second, allowing Masten to score. The inning ended in anti-climatic fashion, as No. 3 hitter Will Swain sent a scorcher to third that was caught by New Bern’s third baseman, who quickly doubled-up Mitchell.
New Bern tacked on three more runs before the game was over for a 10-1 win. The win forced a second, decisive game for the chance to advance to the Jr. Babe Ruth ENC state tournament.
New Bern forced the game mainly on the arm of starting pitcher Sutton, who went seven strong, giving up one unearned run on four hits and one walk. The all-stars had three errors on the game.
In the second game, which started at 7:30 p.m., Washington finally broke out the bats and looked to be headed to states early on.
The top of the second got out to a rousing start for the home team, as No. 6 hitter Gage Tyson led off with a deep double to right field. After a Beddard walk and an Avery Woolard bunt single, Masten hit a two-run double to the gap. Mitchell followed with a gaper of his own, scoring Woolard and Masten. New Bern’s head coach quickly yanked his starting pitcher for the strong-armed Miller. Following a sacrifice bunt by Ryan Hardison, Will Swain greeted Miller with a towering two-run home run to straight away center field. The home crowd, and team, went wild as Swain crossed home. But the celebration would be short-lived.
New Bern scored two runs of its own in the bottom half of the frame, before exploding for 12 runs in the third inning. The inning was started by a Smith single, before Jordan Nobles reached first on a fielding error by the Washington shortstop. With runners on first and second, Miller hit a tapper to the pitcher, who overthrew third, allowing Smith to score.
Then came the hit parade. Six straight New Bern players hit singles of every variety — through the holes, line drives, bloops — before Henderson reached first on an error by the Washington second baseman. After Miller was hit by a pitch in his second at-bat of the inning, Brinson hit a deep two-run double. By the time the inning was over, New Barn had batted around twice for a 15-6 lead.
And the New Bern all-stars weren’t done. The team put up three more runs in the bottom of the fourth for a mercy-rule win, 18-6.
The New Bern team will carry a lot of momentum into the state tournament, while Washington will be left wondering about what could have been.