Sometimes you get a score out of a baseball game that really obscures and alters the true nature of the contest.
It was no heat-driven hallucination or mirage Friday as the Total Baseball Vipers Navy (CA) posted a 16-3 victory over the Cincy Flames (OH), as the Vipers truly did advance in the 13u division of the TCSB Invite at the SlumpBuster. But the end result did look curious, as the Vipers only led 2-1 after three innings and had stranded a slew of baserunners.
Fortunately, pitcher David Lozano had all his tools working and didn't seem bothered by the sultry conditions or the sight of runs left on the table. He faced the minimum nine batters through innings 2-4, and eventually the Vipers offense took off with quality at-bats and aggressive baserunning. Five runs came across in the fourth and nine more rocked the scoreboard in the fifth.
The Vipers (who topped the Memphis Tigers 6-0 earlier Saturday) will face the 3n2 Warriors (CO) Saturday morning, with the winners clinching a spot in Sunday's championship game.
"David kept us in the game, there's no question. He gave us a chance to stay close and take advantage of some opportunities that came up later," said Vipers coach Tom Musehorn, whose team had tied the Flames 5-5 in Wednesday's pool play. "We just come out here to play and get better, and to get the guys ready for the next level, quite honestly. It's about trying to get better and get them ready for high school."
Lozano allowed two hits to the first three batters but kept the damage to one run, and the two runs that the Flames scored in the fifth were unearned.
"I was just thinking, throw strikes and get the team back in the dugout," said Lozano, who had four strikeouts and did not walk a batter. "It's hot out here, so I wanted to keep throwing strikes. We've had some moments when our players have come through, big time with hitting. We talk about staying within yourself."
Fueling the offense was leadoff hitter Dean West, who had four hits and scored four times, impressing everyone in the area with his speed around the bases. He scored the first two runs, one off a groundout from Tyler Garcia and the other off a single by Ethan Munoz.
"I try to go up there and drive the ball, hit one hard," West said. "I thought we've done really good here; we've been aggressive, and that's what we really need to do. It's not even one game at a time for us, it's one inning at a time, one pitch at a time."
Munoz had two RBI for the Vipers, and Owen Carlson also drove in two runs. Lozano doubled and scored in the fourth inning. For the Flames, leadoff hitter Easton Eibel was a shining light, rapping three hits and scoring two runs.
The Flames will take on the Memphis Tigers in the loser's bracket Saturday; also still alive in that part of the 13u TCSB journey are the AZ Athletics Elite and the NTX Eagles.
In the TCSB 14u division, Armour Baseball (CO) will play locals Millard Elite Saturday for a berth in the championship game Sunday.