By Kyle Koso
GYPSUM, Colo. – Rodrick Brown didn’t exactly love how his at-bats were playing out Friday at the Triple Crown World Series, although he liked the odds of things turning around in his favor.
Brown, leadoff hitter for the Offseason Baseball-Garcia squad out of Houston, fought off the doubts in a huge spot in extra innings against the Wood Ducks (Wichita, KS), drilling a two-run single in the top of the seventh to give Offseason the lead in a 13uD2 bracket game at the Eagle Sports Complex. That opened to door for more runs, and Offseason pocketed a 14-10 victory to move to the semifinals in the upper half of the championship chase.
Offseason, the No. 14 seed of the 16 teams in the bracket, will play at 10:15 a.m. Saturday against No. 2 Wichita Wolfpack in this double-elimination format.
Brown was 0-for-3 with a walk as the seventh inning started; the game sat at an 8-8 tie after six innings and had reached the time limit, so a runner was placed on second base in the international tiebreaker. That runner, Forrest Fowler, came around to score on a balk, and with one out and the bases loaded, Brown took his place in the batter’s box.
“I was basically thinking, go middle/away, and if he came inside, just try to go with it. I ended up executing it and getting the RBIs that I needed,” Brown said. “It was a bit of both (emotions), as I was pretty anxious but also very focused.”
“You’re still teaching a lot at this age, and as they get older, you know you need to be ready for that last at-bat,” said Offseason coach Asa Garcia. “It doesn’t matter what happened before. Rodrick let a pitch go, and you could tell he was still thinking about (earlier). But in the seventh, it was a new moment.”
Nathan Kalmin added a two-run single in the seventh, and Offseason ended up taking a 14-8 lead. Kalmin was 5-for-5 on the day with a key two-run home run in the sixth that he launched with the wind and over the defense in left field, a sequence that put Offseason ahead, 8-7.
“At the plate, I was looking for first-pitch strikes. I didn’t get many, but I was dialed in on it. The fastball I hit in the top of the sixth, I was just ready, he was going to come in with a fastball on a 1-0 count,” Kalmin said. “That was a new pitcher, threw a bit harder than the other guy, and I went up with the approach to get the win. We had some momentum after (winning earlier Friday), fixed what we did wrong in pool play and came out ready. No one would be stopping us.”
In the sixth and seventh, Brown also was asked to muscle up in relief, and with two strikeouts to end the sixth and one more to close the game, he seemed comfortable under those stress points as well.
“I was thinking about getting outs, and it didn’t matter much if they scored because we had a big lead,” Brown said. “As long as the defense executed, I was fine. We should have been a higher (seed), but we didn’t play that well in two of the games. We know we can beat any team we play.”
Jack Detoto had important RBI hits in the sixth and seventh for Offseason; Fowler had two hits, including a three-run homer in the third that sent his team up 3-1.
The Wood Ducks took a 6-3 lead after four innings – Jace Gouge reached base four times and drove in two runs, and Kruz Sheppard had two hits and two RBI.