PITTSBURG — The Pittsburg 11-year-old all-stars won four games during pool play on Thursday, Friday and Saturday in the Cal Ripken Midwest Plains Regional tournament.
Winning four out of five games gave the Pittsburg all-stars a No. 1 seed heading into bracket play on Sunday.
BAXTER NO MATCH FOR PITTSBURG
A late and rainy night at the ballpark saw the Pittsburg all-stars win their first game of the tournament 10-0 against Baxter by run rule in the fourth inning.
The Pittsburg all-star’s energy never dipped despite playing well after midnight in the rainy conditions, as they touched up Baxter for 10 in the first four innings.
“The kids didn’t look great during warmups and I’m sure it was due to the long wait, but it was alright,” Pittsburg head coach Brian Pasteur said. “We just went out there, played well and Bryant Kitchen threw a great game.”
Pittsburg took a one-run lead in the opening inning on an RBI single left field by Grant O’Doherty, before cushioning the lead to 5-0 with four runs in the second.
The second inning was highlighted by a two-run double down the left-field line off the bat of Tucker Akins.
Following a short rain delay, the Pittsburg all-stars ended the game with five runs in the fourth inning.
Akins tallied two RBIs in the inning on a double to center field and O’Doherty drove in a pair of runs on a single through the right side of the infield.
Kitchen earned the MVP award for his pitching performance, allowing no runs on three hits with six strikeouts through four innings of work.
Akins took home the WOW award, going 2-for-2 at the plate.
PITTSBURG BEGINS DAY TWO WITH WIN OVER BRECKENRIDGE
The Pittsburg all-stars continued their success in day two of the tournament, as they defeated Breckenridge on run rule with a 12-2 lead in the fifth inning.
Pittsburg posted nine runs in the first four frames, before going up 12-0 in the top of the fifth and holding Breckenridge to two runs in the bottom half to maintain a double-digit lead which enforced the run rule.
“There again,we had good pitching from our starter [Webb Fern],” Brian Pasteur said. “He came out and threw strikes and our bats came alive. We started hitting the ball, so that was really good, but all of our pitchers threw well today.”
The Pittsburg all-stars hit the ground running, going up 3-0 in the opening inning and increasing the lead to 7-0 with four runs in the second.
Cooper Simmons was a big part in gaining the early lead, as he drove in the game’s first run on a double down the left-field line in the first inning and drove a three-run home run over the left-field fence in the second frame.
Akins and Beau Pasteur each crossed the plate in the fourth to tac on two more runs to Pittsburg’s total, before three more runs were added in the fifth to increase the lead to 12-0.
The fifth inning was highlighted by a two-run single by Simmons and included an RBI base hit from Tucker Harrell.
Breckenridge got two runs back in the bottom half of the fifth, but couldn’t push across a third to avoid the run rule.
Fern earned the MVP award, allowing one hit while notching five strikeouts through three, scoreless innings of work.
Simmons was awarded the WOW award, as he went a perfect 4-for-4 with six RBIs and two runs scored.
PITTSBURG FALLS TO DEVIL’S LAKE
A roller-coaster game swung in favor of Devil’s Lake all-stars, as they regained momentum late in the contest — after watching a six-run lead slip away in the middle innings — to hang on for a 14-11 win.
Trailing by six in the fourth inning, Simmons sparked a seven-run inning with a grand slam over the fence in center field to give Pittsburg the lead, but Devil’s Lake got five runs back in the following frame and held on for the win.
“It was a good game all around,” Pasteur said. “They’re a good offensive team and they hit the ball well. We started hitting the ball a little bit better as the game went on, but it was a good game.”
A pair of manufactured runs by the Pittsburg all-stars in the third inning got them out of an offensive funk in the early going, as Beau Pasteur and Akins drew a pair of walks with the bases loaded to cut the deficit to 3-2.
Devil’s Lake began pulling away with three runs in the fourth, but a grand slam by Simmons in the bottom half got the Pittsburg all-stars’ offense rolling and accounted for four of the seven runs in the inning to give them a 9-8 lead.
Despite watching the lead slip away, Devil’s Lake regained the momentum with six runs in the fifth and held off a late rally by Pittsburg to hang on for the win.
Harrell came in to score in the fifth on a fielder’s choice after getting aboard with a one-out double into the right-center field gap, before Kysen Bennett drove in Pittsburg’s final run in the sixth on a triple to center field.
PITTSBURG WINS CROSSTOWN RIVALRY
The Pittsburg all-stars got back on track in the third day of the tournament, defeating Frontenac 19-9.
Pittsburg crossed the plate in every inning and ended the game by run rule with five runs in the fifth.
“We were fortunate with Frontenac not necessarily needing a win in that game to stay alive in the tournament,” Brian Pasteur said. “They have a tough game coming up and we did our jobs. We did what we were supposed to do and swung the bats well.”
Frontenac broke the seal with a three-run homer opening frame, but Pittsburg grabbed the lead in the bottom half with eight runs to go up 8-3.
The inning was highlighted by a two-run double from Akins and included an RBI triple by Simmons, a two-run single by Harrell, an RBI double by O’Doherty, an RBI base knock from Bennett and a sacrifice fly off the bat of Kitchen.
Following three runs by Frontenac in the second inning, Pittsburg posted two runs in the bottom half on a pair of RBI base hits from Quentin Fears and Connor VanBecelaere, before scoring three more runs in the third to extend the lead to 13-6.
Harrell and Beau Pasteur each cashed in with an RBI apiece in the third.
Frontenac continued to battle and crossed the plate three times in the fourth on an RBI single by Harrell, but Pittsburg scored a run in the bottom half and ended the game with five runs in the fifth.
Fears, VanBecelaere, Noah Rogers, Fern and Kitchen each drove in an RBI apiece in the fifth.
Akins won the MVP award, going 3-for-4 with two RBIs and two runs scored.
Harrell took home the WOW award, driving in three runs on four hits with two runs scored.
PITTSBURG ENDS POOL PLAY WITH WIN
The final game of pool play wasn’t a must-win situation for the Pittsburg all-stars, but getting the 10-4 victory over Grand Forks kept the momentum on their side heading into bracket play.
Pittsburg scored five runs in the second inning en route to building a 10-run lead in the fifth frame and held off a late rally by Grand Forks to get the win.
“I thought it was a good game,” Brian Pasteur said. “A lot of people may have looked at it as a meaningless game, but it did. We got some great pitching performances from a lot of our guys and we knew we were were going to play hard and go all out.”
Pittsburg broke into the score column in the second inning, going up 5-0 with the help of a two-run triple by Fern, an RBI triple by Harrell and an RBI base hit from John Potusek.
Rogers, Fern and Kitchen all came in to score for Pittsburg in the fourth, before a sacrifice fly by Kitchen and an RBI single by Rogers in the fifth put Pittsburg ahead 10-0.
Grand Forks avoided the run rule by crossing the plate in the bottom of the fifth and threatened to rally back with four runs in the sixth, but were kept at bay by the Pittsburg defense.
Fern earned the MVP award, as he drove in two runs on three hits with three runs scored.
Fears earned the WOW award, going 2-for-4 at the plate.
— 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.