With a narrow 3-1 victory over the Southeast champs from Raleigh, N.C. (2-2), at Cal Sr.'s Yard on Wednesday, the Ohio Valley squad of Lexington, Ky., guaranteed itself a spot in the tournament's upcoming championship round.
Holding a narrow 2-1 advantage in the bottom of the fifth frame, the Lexington boys padded their lead by one with some inventive base running. With two outs and no one on base, Kainen Bibb kept Lexington alive by reaching base on an infield error. With starting pitcher Austin Dick at the plate, Bibb swiped second base, then stole third when Dick earned a walk. Now at first base, Dick broke for second on the first pitch, drew a throw from the Raleigh catcher, and got himself involved in a rundown, giving Bibb enough time to scamper home for his team's third tally.
Raleigh refused to go down easily in the top of the sixth, and at one point had the tying runs in scoring position. The frame started when Robert Frongello swatted one of Dick's offerings to the wall in left for a double. Alex Molden came up next and hit a scorcher up the third base line, but unfortunately for Raleigh the ball was hit directly at the chest of Lexington's third baseman Zach Bryant. Raleigh's Andrew Buchholz earned a walk, and both he and Frongello moved over a base on a wild pitch. Dick, however, was able to work out of the jam, getting an infield fly out, and a game-ending groundout to short.
The Southeast team scored its one and only run in the opening frame, when Kyle Gensler was driven home from third when Buchholz earned a bases-loaded walk.
Lexington tied the game up in the opening frame, when Dick cranked a double, and later scored on a wild pitch. In the third inning Dick repeated his performance, and plated the winning run in the process, ripping a two-bagger and later coming around to score.
In a complete-game effort, Dick struck out five, walked three and scattered five hits.
Gensler was the lone Raleigh batter with multiple hits, going 2-for-3 with a double.
Bel Air dropped in final game
In Tuesday's National Division contest at Fenway Park, the Harford County representatives from Bel Air were knocked off for the fourth straight time, losing 9-0 to the Midwest Plains team from Waite Park, Minn.
Bel Air (0-4) managed just two hits, which came off the bats of Kyle Bright and Jordan Ly.
The winners posted one run in the second frame, then exploded for seven in the following inning, and closed out scoring with a one-run rally in the fourth.
Waite Park's big stick belonged to Jack Schramel, who knocked in two runs and scored once himself. Chris Backes was 2-for-4 with one run and one RBI in the victory, while teammate Paul Nelson went 1-for-3 with two runs and one RBI. Mike Petron, Tanner Brosh and Keaton LeClaire all had one RBI for the Midwest team.
Brosh was the game's winning pitcher, tossing 2-2/3 innings of relief in which he held Bel Air to a pair of hits and issued three walks.