After a start that seemed to indicate a run-ruled game could be in order, Team Elite ultimately needed five innings to beat the CV Scrambledawgs 11-2 in the third game of Pool F play at the World Wood Bat Association’s 18U national championship.
The Phenix City, Ala.-based team still had some fight in it after getting hit hard in the first inning, and it managed to trim the six-run lead to four before Team Elite put the Scrambledawgs away with a five-run fifth inning.
“Usually, when you get up to big leads, those things are going to happen. There’s not so much tricking guys anymore,” said Team Elite coach Romas Hicks, who is also the pitching coach for Chris Stafford at Marietta. “We’re going right after guys, pounding the strike zone with fastballs, forcing them to get back into the game.”
Team Elite (3-0) totaled 11 hits in the game.
Tyler Weyenberg and Myles Wilson, rising seniors at Hillgrove and Marietta, respectively, had two hits apiece. Norcross’ Jess Ramsey and Mountain View’s Garry Gwaltney also had two hits.
Rising Harrison senior Ben Schniederjans pitched four innings for the win, giving up two runs on five hits and striking out four. Rising Sprayberry senior Landon Hughes needed 10 pitches in two innings of relief to wrap up the game.
Team Elite made it look easy in the first inning, with 10 batters coming to the plate. It staked a 2-0 lead after the first five batters before giving up its first out.
The offensive flurry began with singles by Weyenberg and Harris before Ramsey doubled both baserunners home. Ramsey would then score the third run on a groundout. Wilson added an RBI to score Gwaltney, and the remaining two runs scored on an error and a wild pitch.
“We try to get our guys to really get out to an early start, have good approaches and jump on pitchers early,” Hicks said. “Early in the game, all pitchers like to establish the strike zone. We tell our guys to jump on first-pitch fastballs and put pressure on their defense, and it worked out.”
The game changed once it entered the second inning. The Scrambledawgs needed just seven pitches to retire the side, and they went on to face the minimum in the third. In fact, starter Cody Sheffield gave up just one hit in the second, third and fourth innings combined.
Meanwhile, the Scrambledawgs started hitting off Schniederjans in the bottom of the second. They led off the inning with three straight hits, the third an RBI that put them on the board.
After a scoreless third, Schniederjans gave up a solo home run to Ben Williams for the Scrambledawgs’ second run.
Team Elite, however, returned to its first-inning form in the fifth, going through its entire lineup.
“We started realizing we needed to get out of the sun, so we started putting the ball on the ground and finding some gaps,” Weyenberg said. “They started making errors here and there and we just kept pounding the ball.”
Two singles and a walk loaded the bases for Team Elite with no outs. Gwaltney singled home Weyenberg before Wilson and rising Hillgrove senior Chad Adkins came through with a pair of two-run singles.
Team Elite will continue pool play with a morning game in Duluth against the Elite Performance Baseball Club of Miami.
The Scrambledawgs (1-1) play Florida’s FTB Pride today at Etowah High School in Woodstock.