After dropping their first bracket play game in the 11u TCSB Invite, Texas Mizuno knew the road ahead would be long, but they are ready for the challenge.
“Our team is underperforming of what we’re capable of, but that’s what you get when you have to fight your way through the loser’s bracket. The competition has been great out here; this is one of the better run tournaments that we’ve ever been a part of,” said Mizuno head coach Chris Fulbright.
In their second game Friday, Mizuno faced Top Tier American South from Illinois. It was a fierce pitching dual for the first three and a half innings. Top Tier’s pitcher struck out five of the first seven Mizuno batters, forcing them to make adjustments at the plate.
“There was a lot of room on the outside of the plate, so we had to take away that corner and change our approach. We had to make sure we were concentrated on hitting it to right field,” added Fulbright.
Their adjustments paid off in the bottom of the fourth inning as Mizuno drew two walks to put runners on base and then crushed back-to-back triples to deep right field to end the score drought. The team tacked on two more runs in that inning to take a commanding 4-0 lead (the eventual final score) heading into what would be the last frame.
The coach’s son, Cooper Fulbright, pitched a one-hit shutout gem with three K’s.
“Most of the time I just try to stay calm and just simply try to throw strikes and keep my pitches down,” said Cooper. “Then, I have an infield like Nico, my best shortstop, and every time they hit a ball to him I’m so confident he’s gonna make the play.”
Nico Partida played solid defense and was also responsible for sending the outside pitch over the right fielder’s head to score the first run of the game for his team.
“I knew it was going to be a strike and if I knew if I tried to pull it, it wouldn’t work, so I just tried to hit it the other way and it went far,” said Partida. “I was struggling the first few games to get my bat going, but now I feel confident that every time I go to the plate I’m going to do something good.”
On Saturday, Mizuno will face the Twelve Black team that served them their first TCSB bracket play loss. They plan to use their restored confidence and knowledge of their opponent to change the outcome.
“That team is from about 30 minutes from where we’re at in south Houston so we’ve seen them plenty of times this year, we know what they can do and they know what we can do. It’s gonna be a fight tomorrow,” said coach Fulbright.