By Daniel Villegas
HENDERSON, NV. - It is not about how you start the game, it's about how you finish it. That was the motto for the Naturals after a slow start.
The Naturals, based out of Lehi, Utah, headed into game two of the Triple Crown Las Vegas Fall Nationals with hopes of a different outcome. They dropped game one of their tournament play to Canes West Las Vegas 10-4.
They certainly got better results with an offensive explosion against the Sandlot Baseball Club, securing a 17-5 victory with all their runs coming in the fourth inning. This brings their tournament record to 1-1 as they sit in second of pool A in the 14u division. They are just behind Canes West Las Vegas (2-0) in the standings.
“It is good, it felt good. We started really slow today and even through the second game, in the first three innings we couldn’t get the bats going.” said Head Coach Scott Brown when asked about his first win of the tournament. “We finally got a few hits we strung together. Yeah it felt good to get a win in that second game."
There was a slow start to the Naturals' offense as they could not muster any runs through three innings of play. They only had one runner on base and that came via a throwing error off a ground ball to the shortstop of the Sandlot Baseball Club.
It was a different story for the Sandlot as their offense was clicking early and seemed like they were going to run away with it. A strong second inning helped them build a lead of 3-0. This came from the catcher Wyatt Turely, as his RBI single drove in the first run of the game. A past ball brought in another run soon after. Gavin Grey capped the inning with an easy double to bring in another run.
The momentum carried into the third as a quick single from Chase Renzo and then an error from the second baseman put two runners on base. Jordan Butcher was able to bring one of those runners home with a long RBI single in the left center gap. Then a passed ball in the inning brought another runner home and the Sandlot Baseball Club was sitting pretty with a 5-0 lead.
But the beauty about baseball is it is never really over until every single out is recorded. The Naturals were down but they were not out.
“Just one pitch at a time, get your pitch, be aggressive, and let’s put some pressure on the defense,” said Coach Brown about inspiring his players heading into the fourth inning.
The inning started fast with a leadoff single from Miles Robinson. A passed ball brought him to second and while trying to pick him off he was able to advance to third by a throwing error. Dawson Brown hit a bullet in between short and third to tally the Naturals first run of the game.
The bases were loaded soon after an infield single from Hazen Elton and Keaton Nordick being hit by a pitch. A wild pitch brought one of those runners in with Devaughn Eka smacking a double to bring the score to 5-3. Another wild pitch made the score 5-4 with Tyler Zabriskie coming up with a big time at bat. He smoked a go ahead double with two runners scoring on the play to make it 6-5 Naturals.
“I was in the down count, I choked up, try to put the ball in play and see what happens,” said Zabriskie about his big at bat. “Just try to get on base and help my team out.”
The offense did not stop there as they continued to pile on the runs in the inning.
Four pitching mistakes led to four more runs for the Naturals. Plus, there was key hitting from players throughout the lineup. Bode Gaggero had a two run single and from there the Naturals never looked back. Clutch RBI singles from Maxon DeGroot, Hanks Jacobson, and Kannon Whiteley really stretched the lead. Zabriskie had another big time at bat with a nice RBI single that brought in two runs. He had four RBIs in that one inning alone. All this brought the score to 17-5 through three and a half innings.
The Naturals brought in Kannon Whiteley to shut things down and he did exactly that. He faced the minimum with two quick fly outs, a walk, and a ground out to finish the game.
“I would rate (our performance) about an eight out of ten. We were solid, just a couple of errors but not bad” said Keaton Nordick, a player on the Naturals. “We will continue (to) improve and get better. We will be able to score more and just improve”.
The Naturals look to continue their hot offense when they face the Grays at 8 am tomorrow morning.
The Sandlot Baseball Club will look to grab their first win of the tournament when they play Future Prospects at 10:15 am.