Lawrence Wilson, head coach of the 11u Ohio Spiders, made it clear he doesn't think the lower portion of the TCSB Invite at the SlumpBuster is really a loser's bracket.
"Hey, we're on the top. We are on the top of the world; there are only eight teams here. There's no bottom of the bracket at the Invite-Only SlumpBuster," he said with a broad smile after the Spiders eased past the Indiana Bulls, 4-3, Friday afternoon.
With the win, the Spiders will take on Millard Elite on Saturday, with a chance to claw back through the "lower" draw and get a crack at the title game Sunday.
The Spiders were trailing 3-2 when Dominic Perry drove in two runs with a shot to right field to give his team the lead. Joey Pollock threw 1 1/3 innings of spot-on relief for the Spiders to secure the win.
"I just got angry, and I didn't want to give up a run," Pollock said.
The Austin Horns dropped their first four games at the 12u TCSB Invite, but the roster responded in a critical game late Friday, slipping past Indiana Nitro Gold, 9-5, to keep the heartbeat going in the loser's bracket.
Leading by two runs in the top of the sixth, the Horns plated two big insurance runs. Kaden Ward's grounder led to an error that brought in one run, and Cameron Bartz authored a perfect bunt that brought in another run.
In the bottom of the frame, Horns pitcher Luke Gomez got a quick out on a liner to centerfield that was chased down impressively by Bartz. After a walk and a single, shortstop Tony Diaz one-handed a wind-blown pop fly for the second out.
A shot off Gomez's glove led to a single for Nitro, which then had the bases loaded. But Gomez made another good pitch, and one more popout to Diaz sealed the win.
"We are just going to have to battle it out. We believed we could do it, and we had to make those small plays to get things going our way," said Horns coach Donnie Joseph. "In the loser's bracket, you're not really expected to come all the way back, so it's a little less pressure on us. We go out there and enjoy it, and compete. We haven't had a good start, but today will give us some confidence going into tomorrow."
"I just play baseball - I've done that a thousand times," Gomez said. "Those runs gave me more confidence pitching up there, and I think we are ready for more tomorrow."