By Adam Burns
Jonah Choate has righted the ship. And so has his team.
Choate tossed two shutout innings and his offense took care of the rest as the New Berlin Magic closed 14u Pool H play of the Omaha SlumpBuster tournament with a 17-0 run-rule victory over the LS Yellow Jackets Friday morning on Pat Shanahan Memorial Field at the La Vista Sports Complex.
“I threw pretty well in the first inning, but the second I loaded the bases and bounced back and got out of it,” said Choate, who allowed just three hits and struck out two batters.
It was a performance that put Magic coach Dave Rodgers at ease.
“He's been struggling and he's one of our Top-2 pitchers and he's reliable, but the last couple weeks he's been throwing it high,” Rodgers said. “He did pretty well and we were pleased with his performance. It looks like he's back on track.”
And so is the Magic offense, which erupted for 17 runs and seven hits, all while taking advantage of five errors from the Yellow Jackets. The Magic, a Milwaukee-based team, led 8-0 after two innings before adding nine more runs in the third to promptly end the game.
“We came out with the bats today,” said Matthew Riser, who collected two hits and two RBI. “Jonah pitched really well, and it's always good to get the bats going and score some runs.”
Plenty of runs, indeed, for Choate and Risser, who came on in relief and threw a scoreless third inning to start a bountiful resting period for the Magic pitching staff ahead of Saturday, the start of bracket play.
“The other nice part of having a big game like this is not burning up too much pitching,” Rodgers said. “We have pretty much our whole bullpen through the rest of the weekend, so I'm pleased with that.”
The three-inning contest lasted around one hour and put the Magic at 2-1 ahead of bracket play. The Yellow Jackets, of Lee's Summit, Missouri, fell to 0-3.
“This puts us in a really good spot in this tournament,” Risser said. “Being 2-1 is really good headed into bracket.”
“It's always good to get a win to get the momentum going into bracket play,” Rodgers said. “We were 1-1 (after Friday) with a win against a pretty good team and then we got shut out. So it was good to come back and bounce back today ... It gives us a lot of confidence going into the weekend.”