A 2-1 record out of pool play and a 16-1 rout in the first round of the bracket had Bombers Baseball Club feeling confident in the 13u Division of the Triple Crown World Series. After a misstep against Premier Baseball, Bombers showed its grit, outlasting NW Premier in a tension-filled 7-6 win.
“Even when it got close at the end there if you looked at any of them, you couldn’t tell that it was a one-run game in the final inning,” said head coach Brett Grayson. “At any point in the game, you couldn’t tell what the score was. They all competed like it was any other pitch, and I love that.”
Much the delight of Grayson, his players were locked in early. Back-to-back one-out walks gave Grant Selig the opportunity to drive in the game’s first run. Selig did not waste the early opportunity, singling to score Max Rubalcaba. Five players crossed home plate before the end of the top of the first inning, including a two-RBI triple from Luca Bove, the inning’s only extra-base hit.
“Premier’s pitcher had a little velocity,” said Bove. “I didn’t want to try to do too much. I was just looking for a pitch to drive up the middle. Luckily, I made it a bit farther.”
After NW Premier plated a run in the bottom of the first, Bombers recaptured its four-run advantage with an answer in the top of the second.
“I think if you ask any one of the coaches in this tournament, they would all say getting off to a hot start is in your favor,” Grayson said. “We chose to be the visitors, and any time we can get out and throw the first punch, we’re going to. The first couple of innings played out just the way we wanted.”
Down by four once again, Premier rallied once more in the bottom of the second inning to chip away at the Bomber lead. Two runs came across to narrow the margin, 6-3.
“They were a great hitting team,” said Bombers pitcher Kent Goodman. “The only way to get past them was to keep them off balance.”
For the next two innings, the Bombers pitching staff did just that. Dylan Eshoff and Preston Lee both found the right buttons to press in the third and fourth innings, limiting Premier to just two hits before handing the reins to Goodman.
While the Bomber defense was maintaining a lead, the offense stayed stagnant until the fifth inning. Rubalcaba stretch the lead from three to four with an RBI single, an important insurance run heading into what would be the sixth and final inning.
The bottom of the sixth inning began with a harmless walk. However, as time went on, Premier began pushing runs across, increasing the level of excitement on both sides.
“Damage control was key,” Goodman explained. “My mentality in those final moments was to go back to what was working, keep them off balance and limit any major mistakes.”
Three runs from Premier made it a one-run game. With runners on second and third, a hit could represent a walk-off. A poised Goodman confidently struck out the final two batters, sealing the win, 7-6, and keeping Bombers tournament hopes alive.
“As long as these guys have a little energy, I think we have a chance,” said Grayson. “It’s day four and it’s a long time to be at altitude. We had it today and I’ll be looking for that energy tomorrow.”
The Bombers' long road to the championship game continues on Saturday, where they’ll need to win three consecutive games to stay alive. Despite the lengthy stretch ahead, Bombers Baseball remains optimistic.
“We just need to play our brand of baseball,” said Bove. “If we play like we usually do, play hard and stay positive, we can win any game.”