By Connor Wiggins
So far in the Slumpbuster, it has been a rarity for a game to go the full seven innings without reaching the time limit, but that’s exactly what Millard United Elite and Vegas Vipers did on Wednesday afternoon.
Millard started the top of the first inning with a double from Nick Venteicher, but nothing else was going for them in the inning.
Their defense didn’t start very clean either, as Evan Festa of Vegas reached on an error by Millard first baseman Drew Lodice on the first at-bat of the bottom of the first inning. Vegas scored two runs in the bottom of the first inning to put some early pressure on Millard.
The top of the second inning didn’t go as planned for Millard either, as they started with a leadoff single and got another hit as well, but nothing was going as the Vegas defense continued to step up.
Millard’s defense still was not up to par in the bottom of the second inning as they had another error and were called for a balk, but the Millard pitcher was able to get out of the inning without letting another run by after a lineout and flyout.
In the top of the third inning, Millard managed to get two more hits, but still couldn’t get in the scoring column.
The Millard defense started to get into rhythm in the bottom of the third inning with a quick two outs, but after a hit batter, Michael Gibson of Vegas capitalized and drove in the hit batter with an RBI double. The lead was extended to three.
Millard’s bats got going in the top of the fourth inning as they got in the hitting column four more times and in the scoring column five times to take their first lead of the game.
But Vegas responded quickly by scoring four more runs in the bottom of the inning thanks to a grand slam from Alex Rhymes. The lead was taken back by Vegas and the deficit was two runs.
Brady Dallimore stepped onto the mound in the top of the fifth inning and looked impressive with a 1-2-3 inning and a strikeout to halt Millard’s hot bats for the time being.
Vegas didn’t manage to plate any more runs in the bottom of the inning, as they started with two singles, but grounded into a 5-3 double play. Dallimore flew out to center field to end the inning.
Millard did the rest of their damage on offense for the afternoon in the top of the sixth inning as they scored five more runs on six hits, one of the hits being a 2-run home run from catcher Logan Woolfork. “My approach at the plate was to just put it in play and hit it hard somewhere,” Woolfork said. “I had a feeling it was going to clear the fence,” he said.
Things went south for Millard in the bottom of the inning as Harrison Hart entered the game to pitch. Hart started the inning by getting a ground ball and retiring the first batter of the inning, but just six pitches into his outing, he took a line drive off of his right hand and had to exit the game.
J.D. Moffett came in to pitch for the injured Hart and gave up a single in the inning, but managed to get out of trouble and keep Millard out of the scoring column.
The score remained 10-7 after the top of the seventh inning thanks to two strike outs and a fly out in a quick 1-2-3 inning.
Vegas made things interesting in the bottom of the seventh inning with a leadoff single and a walk to follow. They drove in runs on a groundout that scored a runner from third and a dropped fly ball from the Millard right fielder, but J.D. Moffett got out of the inning and ended the game for his team despite giving up two runs.
“I just thought about getting ahead, throwing the next strike, and not worrying about any of the runners,” Moffett said.
Head Coach of Millard United Elite, Chris Veintecher, was happy with the way his players responded after Hart’s injury. “I’m just proud of the way we came out and adjusted and made some plays at the end and got some key base hits in both games to seal off the victories,” he said.
Millard United Elite finishes pool play with two wins and a loss. Bracket play begins Friday.