Sometimes, a double-elimination format like the Triple Crown 11u World Series requires teams to play multiple games in a day as they claw back through the loser’s bracket.
For the Phenom Texas squad, the schedule broke more favorably, as they had just one contest Saturday, taking on HB Total Baseball (CA) in a late-afternoon matchup that fed the lower half of the Christie Peak bracket in Steamboat Springs, Colo. And while stress levels and pressure mounted for three innings, it all drained away as Phenom scored 11 runs in the fourth inning to secure a 13-3 run-rule victory and move forward.
They will meet the SoCal Bombers on Sunday morning, still on a path to reach the bracket final later in the day by winning two more games.
The Phenom used 10 singles, a couple of errors and a walk to fuel their huge inning, actually coming back from a 3-2 deficit.
“We had good pitching and hit great,” said Paxton Samuelson, who pitched four tidy innings and also had two hits and two runs scored. “I was just thinking, throw strikes and get ground balls … let my team make some plays behind me. We just said, the hardest team to beat is the one having the most fun.”
Collin Blackstock reached on an error in the first, stole second and came home on Blake Lindsay’s single to bring in Phenom’s first run; Samuelson had a two-out double in the third and was brought home by Blackstock’s single. In the huge fourth inning, the team made just one out before the run rule was reached.
“We started off in a good spot, kept fighting, and put our foot on their neck and twisted,” said Lindsay, who along with Parker Bowman and William Nester drove in two runs. “We’re not trying to do too much, just get out there and play a good game of baseball. That was probably some of the best pitching we had all year with Paxton.”
Phenom coach Dusty DeFury said his team had an untimely struggle in pool play, enough to keep them from reaching the bracket of the top 16, but there’s been no sulking or head-hanging by his roster. The main emphasis is on ending a long season that started in February with a bunch of positive memories.
“We had a really good game against a good team from California yesterday, 13-11 or so, and it takes a lot to play this many games,” DeFury said. “Luckily, all 11 of our guys can pitch, so we have a lot left and have a shot at getting back and winning this thing. Once we get through the lineup, and they see the same guy again, they start teeing off. We are a really good hitting team.
“Paxton is a great pitcher, a very deceptive lefty. He’s always right around the zone and our defense played well, too.”