PITTSBURG — It was nothing short of domination for the Pittsburg 11-year-old all-stars in the Cal Ripken Midwest Plains Regional tournament, as they totalled seven wins — four by run rule — en route to beating Devil’s Lake 13-3 in the fifth inning of the championship game on Sunday.
Following a 4-3 victory over Frontenac in the first game of bracket play, the Pittsburg all-stars won the championship game by run rule in the fifth inning against the only team to beat them in pool play.
“A lot of these kids have been playing ball for a while now and it’s nice to get them all together,” Pittsburg head coach Brian Pasteur said. “The big thing we stressed throughout the tournament was having fun and just enjoying the ride. We did well, it was a good regional tournament and a lot of kids got to play.”
PITTSBURG CROWNED CHAMPS
Devil’s Lake crossed the plate 14 times in its win over Pittsburg on Friday, but was held scoreless after plating three runs in the first inning of the championship game.
The Pittsburg all-stars added Devil’s Lake to their list of run-rule victories in the tournament with an all-around performance.
“We came to hit today,” Pasteur said. “We had some guys hit the ball who were struggling a little bit, but they came to bat today and produced some runs. I was definitely pleased with how we swung the bats.”
Devil’s Lake mounted a three-run lead in the opening frame, but Pittsburg took a 5-3 advantage with five runs in the first two innings.
Beau Pasteur came in to score on a productive groundout to put Pittsburg on the board in the first inning, before driving in two runs on a triple to right field in the second.
Tucker Akins followed up the triple with an RBI single and Webb Fern added the fourth run in the second inning on a sacrifice fly.
Pittsburg put up two more runs in the fourth on a pair of RBI singles by Grant O’Doherty and Connor VanBecelaere, and ended the game early with six runs in the fifth inning.
The six-run fifth inning was highlighted by an RBI triple into the left-center field gap off the bat of Cooper Simmons and included RBI base hits from Tucker Harrell, Beau Pasteur, VanBecelaere and O’Doherty.
Harrell won the MVP award, going 2-for-3 with an RBI and three runs scored.
VanBecelaere was presented the WOW award, as he drove in two runs on three hits with a run scored.
PITTSBURG ADVANCES TO CHAMPIONSHIP
Late-inning dramatics saw the Pittsburg all-stars escape with a 4-3 win over Frontenac to punch their ticket to the championship game.
Pittsburg was protecting a one-run lead in the sixth inning with the bases loaded and no outs, but managed to tight rope out of danger on the strength of back-to-back strikeouts by the reliever Bryant Kitchen.
“They had some good hitters come through,” Brian Pasteur said. “Our pitchers were able to get through their lineup and Connor [Vanbecelaere] did an exceptional job. Bryant [Kitchen] has been solid throughout the tournament and he came in to shut the door.”
Harrell and Akins each came in to score after drawing walks to give Pittsburg a 2-0 lead in the first inning, before an RBI base hit to right field by Kitchen extended the lead to 3-0 in the second.
A pair of RBI singles from Kal Terlip and Tucker Jameson put Frontenac to within one, but a solo home run off the bat of Simmons extended Pittsburg’s lead to 4-2.
Terlip capitalized on a scoring opportunity in the fourth, driving in Korbin Niegsch who doubled down the left-field line.
After a scoreless fifth inning, Frontenac got the tying run on base after Abram Frankenbery was hit by a pitch to lead off the frame.
Frankenbery moved up into scoring position on a single to center field off the bat of Alex Williams and advanced to third on a walk drawn by Terlip.
A groundball to first base nearly scored the tying run, but a quick throw to the plate was in time to get the force out.
VanBecelaere threw 2.1 innings in relief before handing the ball over to Kitchen, who ended the game with back-to-back strikeouts.
“It hurts to lose, but I’m very proud of the way the kids competed today,” Frontenac head coach Kaleb Turlip said. “Over the last couple of weeks, we’ve competed well in the state tournament and now in this one with a limited number of kids. For a town our size to come and compete, it really shows how hard they’ve worked. We’ve had a lot of hard practices for three weeks — which was kind of a culture shock for some of these kids — and for them to jump on board and really work hard all the way through means a lot. I’m really proud of them.”
For Pittsburg, Simmons received the MVP award for his home run in the third inning, while Kitchen earned the WOW award after striking out two batters with the game on the line and going 1-for-2 at the plate with an RBI and a stolen base.
Alex Williams pitched all five innings for Frontenac and tallied four strikeouts, while going 1-for-4 at the plate to earn the MVP award.
The WOW award went to Niegsch, who went 3-for-4 with two runs scored.
— 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.