by Jason Hanes
Wrapping up pool play on a cloudy Thursday morning at the Triple Crown Summer Nationals in Myrtle Beach, S.C., Hardknox Blue Jays put a hurt on Cy Young DBacks in 15u action, taking a 20-1 win to go 2-1 in pool play.
“We were just trying to take at the plate until we got a strike,” said Hardknox Blue Jays coach Bradley Arp. “Even after strikes, our guys were seeing the ball well."
A three-run first for the Blue Jays was highlighted by a two-out, two-run single to right by Jaden Bone to cap the scoring. Hardknox Blue Jays starting pitcher Caleb Moran would retire the side in order in the bottom of the inning to keep his team ahead after an inning.
In the second, Hardknox (from Jonesboro, Ga.) showed excellent patience at the plate, scoring 11 runs in all to take a 14-0 advantage. A combination of walks and wild pitches led to the first two runs, then with the bases loaded and no one out, a triple all the way to the wall in right by Lukas Lewis cleared the bases to make it 8-0.
Moran then singled home a run to make it 9-0 to make it six runs on just two hits for Hardknox. Later in the inning, Trent Bailey would drive home a pair with a single as Hardknox finished the frame with 11 runs on just four hits.
Moran allowed a base runner in the second, but the Cy Young DBacks of Cambridge, Ohio couldn’t get anything else going.
It was good, because it’s good to hold them, but it’s good to hold the and allow your team to get a big lead on them,” Moran said. “Going out there up 3-0 to start, it gave me more confidence in my guys behind me."
In the third, a throwing error allowed the first of five runs to score for the Hardknox Blue Jays. An RBI single by Jacob Bradley made it 17-0, and then a pair of ground outs led to two more runs, making it 19-0.
Reliever Jack Morris held the Cy Young DBacks scoreless in the third. In the fourth, Curtis Dickerson’s RBI fielder’s choice gave Hardknox an even 20 runs.
Needing a rally to keep the game going, the Cy Young DBacks would get one run on the board, but they needed more. After infield hits by Alex Walker and Giani Peterson, a fielder’s choice put runners on the corners. Josh Smith then lifted a sacrifice fly to center, deep enough to score a run to make it 20-1.
That would be the only run allowed by Morris on the mound. He would step off and catch a runner trying to steal second to end the game, giving his side the victory.
The win allowed the Hardknox Blue Jays a chance to rebound from a tough 13-0 defeat at the hands of West Hills Black yesterday in the second game of pool play.
"There’s been a lot of positives,” Arp said. “There’s been some negatives we’ve addressed too. For the most part, everyone’s been pretty fired up to be here. I’ve been happy with the energy we’ve brought, for the most part. I’m excited to see how the rest of the tournament goes.”
Thanks to playing in the first game of the day, the Hardknox Blue Jays have the rest of the day off before entering bracket play Friday.
“(The tournament’s) been going well,” Moran said. “We have some things to fix here and there, but I think it’s going to be a fun tournament. Now, I can relax, spend some time with my family, and hang out with my teammates.”