by Jason Hanes
Two fired-up teams met in the 15u winner’s bracket finale for a ticket to the championship round at the Triple Crown Summer Nationals in Myrtle Beach, S.C., but in the end, it was a dominant starting
pitching performance that iced one side.
Zander Fasulkey went the distance for West Hills, allowing only three runs to help his team to a 7-3 win over Richmond Hornets East, sending his side into Sunday morning’s championship.
“Honestly, in the beginning I couldn’t find my groove. Later in the game, I found it. I honestly picked up more velocity as the game went on,” Fasulkey said.
“He was outstanding,” said second baseman Joe Pustover. “That’s one of the best games I’ve seen him pitch all year. He was perfect.”
Pustover would have perhaps the biggest hit of the game for West Hills in a tie game in the fifth. With two men on, West Hills set the men on base in motion, and Pustover made contact and hit a dropping liner into right.
The ball would bounce past the right fielder and go all the way to the wall. Pustover kept running, making it all the way around the bases to plate three runs and give his side the lead for good.
“At first, I hit the ball hard, so I thought I was going to get thrown out at first,” Pustover said. “I was running down the line, and then I stopped right there. When I saw the ball get past the right fielder, I
just kept on running.”
Things didn’t start out well for West Hills, as Hornets East put an early marker on the board in the top of the first. A triple by Jabril Bullock led to an RBI ground out by Camden Weston to give his team a
In the bottom of the frame, West Hills answered with a pair of runs to take the lead. Noah Prince ripped an RBI triple to the fence in right-center to tie the score. One batter later, a throwing error at
short allowed Prince to score to make it a 2-1 affair.
“That was huge,” Fasulkey said. “I really enjoy pitching with the lead. It’s a lot easier. I’m more comfortable on the mound. This whole tournament, we’ve been putting runs up on the board.”
West Hills tacked on another run in the third, but it could have been much more. With the bases loaded and one out, a fielder’s choice by Dylan Grass made it 3-1. However, with two out in the inning, a ground out to second ended the frame with two runners left on base.
A big hit tied the game up for Richmond Hornets East in the fourth. With two on and two out, Seth Labecki connected for a two-run double to knot up the score.
But once Fasulkey’s team got him the lead back in the fifth, he was nearly unhittable. In the seventh, Fasulkey retired the side quickly and in order, giving his team a spot in the championship round.
“He’s one of our best pitchers,” said West Hills head coach Bill Douglas. “We saved him for today, and we were going to ride him because we knew this was it.”
While many individuals have stood out during the West Hills run to the final, Douglas is most proud of the team aspect of his side.
“We’ve done this as a team-based thing instead of a bunch of kids hoping to showcase their talents. We’ve needed everybody to win, and we have had to do the little things to move on like move the runner over, take pitches when they don’t want to, all those things,” he said.
West Hills will play Sunday morning against whichever team comes through the loser’s bracket. West Hills will only need one win on Sunday to clinch the championship, while their opponents will need to
defeat West Hills twice.