PITTSBURG — There were high-fives all around for South Texas’ starting pitcher Dalton Brieger, after he capped off a complete-game shutout over RA Kansas City Sluggers to give the Sliders Orange a 1-0 victory in the Premier Baseball Junior National Championship on Thursday inside Jaycee Ballpark.
A pitchers’ duel to the end swung in favor of Brieger and the Sliders in the fifth inning, as the go-ahead run was driven in on a single through the left side of the infield off the bat of Arjun Thakar.
“I thought I executed my pitches pretty well,” Brieger said. “I was hitting my spots well. My two-seam fastball was working and I got a lot of outs with my curveball, so I thought I did pretty well today.”
Both starters were matching each other pitch for pitch until the bottom of the fifth, when Randy Huerta drove a ball to deep right field for a leadoff double.
Huerta advanced to third on a passed ball in the next at-bat, but a check swing resulted in a lazy pop fly which was tracked down by the third baseman for the first out of the inning.
With the go-ahead run on third and the game in the balance, Thakar turned on a pitch and drove it through the left side of the infield for an RBI single which ended up being the difference.
“I had confidence in our guys and I knew that somebody was going to come through with a base hit or a sacrifice fly,” South Texas head coach Allan Lynch said. “I just knew somehow, someway we were going to get that run in and I was just thrilled that we were able to at least scratch one across.”
Brieger retired the side in order to get through the sixth inning and sat down the first man to greet him in the seventh, but a walk drawn by Addison Marshall in the next at-bat put the tying run on base.
A ground ball in the next at-bat was nearly turned for a double play, but Logan Steenstra beat the throw to first to keep the Sluggers’ hopes alive.
The drama was ended in the next plate appearance, as a fly ball to left field was caught for the final out of the game.
Breiger frustrated opposing batters throughout the game, as he collected nine strikeouts with one hit allowed in his complete-game shutout.
Steenstra was tagged with the hard-luck loss, finishing with one earned run on five hits with three strikeouts through six innings of work.
The Premier Junior National Championship will pick bat up at 9:30 a.m. on Friday inside Jaycee Ballpark.
— Jordan Buckamneer is the sports editor of the Pittsburg Morning Sun. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @jbuckamneer.