The Banditos celebrated a long-awaited national championship after a 4-0 win over the Alabama Seminoles. The triumph came with two outs in the top of the sixth inning, when the game was finally called due to lightning and rain.
The Banditos, who went 6-1 in pool play before mowing through the playoffs, hoisted their trophy nearly seven hours after the game’s original 11:30 a.m. start time.
“They came through, man, they came through,” Houston coach Ray Deleon said. “We weren’t the best team that came through, but we were the toughest team.”
Bryce Welborn, a Texas Tech commitment, pitched five shutout innings to get the win. Backed by a stout defense that turned two critical double plays in the first and fourth innings, Welborn scattered four hits and three walks. His only strikeout came at the end of a 10-pitch at-bat against Alabama leadoff hitter Payton Williams to end the fifth.
Welborn was named the tournament’s most valuable pitcher following the game. Alabama’s Keegan Thompson was the top overall player.
Houston broke the game open with three runs in the fourth inning, after squandering a no-out, bases-loaded opportunity in the third.
Stone Garrett reached on an error to start the Banditos’ fourth. Two batters later, Kacy Clemens — the son of seven-time Cy Young Award winner Roger Clemens — hit a one-out double into right field to put runners on second and third.
The runs then began to add up as Francisco Pena delivered a two-run single to score Clemens and Garrett, and Texas A&M-bound Ryne Birk followed with a RBI single to score courtesy runner Daniel Lee.
Birk’s single chased Alabama starter Kyle Drury, who had kept the Banditos in check with one unearned run on two hits over the first three innings. But the Banditos got to Drury in the fourth, before reliever Jesse Nelson bailed him out on just one pitch — Zane Gurwitz’s flyout to right.
Houston also took advantage of three errors by the Seminoles, with two coming in the second inning. Garrett and Tristan Sanders reached on infield miscues before Clemens brought Garrett home on a fielder’s choice grounder.
Birk was the only multi-hit player for the Banditos, going 2-for-3, while Garrett scored two runs.
Tyler Lynn led the Seminoles with two infield hits, but the Prattville, Ala., team couldn’t get the clutch hits it needed. Hunter Schilling hit a one-out double in the fourth, but he was stranded after Blake Logan bounced into a 4-6-3 double play.
Alabama’s biggest opportunity to get on the board came in the sixth, when Lynn was thrown out at the plate for the second out. That ended up being the last play of the game as the teams were asked to leave the field when the weather turned for the worse.
“We had a great tournament,” Alabama coach Jerry Hendricks said. “It’s a shame that the game had to end when it did, but it just didn’t work out (Friday).”