Looking as much like Gulf Coast rookie league pros as a high school baseball team, Faith Baptist won a pair of games by 11 runs Wednesday during the opening day of the 2014 Wheels Invitational baseball tournament.
The Eagles beat Woodrow Wilson High School (Beckley, W.Va.) 13-2 in the opener at South Pointe, before dropping the Stallions 11-0 in a five-inning nightcap. Faith Baptist, a boarding school based in Brandon, Fla., east of Tampa, improved to 28-3 on the season. Coach Gene Reynolds brought 27 players up to Rock Hill for the tournament and he used most of them during Wednesday’s two games.
“We brought a lot of arms so we got to get some guys in,” said Reynolds. “After the first couple innings we got used to the cold, cold for us, it’s cold for us, but it was good. Got to see a lot of guys play and a lot of guys did good things.”
Aside from roster depth, Faith Baptist showed a professional-like approach at the plate, scoring all 11 of its runs against South Pointe in two-out rallies.
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“You win a lot of championships at every level of baseball with two-out RBIs,” said Reynolds. “You can make a lot of money in the big leagues with two-out RBIs, so guys did a really good job with that.”
South Pointe coach Joel Taylor was impressed with the visitors’ performance.
“That’s a great club there; we ran into a buzz-saw,” he said.
Faith Baptist starter Jose Monge and reliever Omar Puegerro held the Stallions to just one hit over five innings. The Eagles’ bats needed just about five pitches to get going.
After leadoff man Keanu Thompson got aboard with a walk, South Pointe should have been out of the frame several at-bats later, but an errant throw drew the first baseman off the bag for what would’ve been a third out.
Instead, Faith Baptist took a 3-0 lead after Bryan Garcia’s shot to the outfield fell out of a diving Stallion’s leather for a three-run double. Luis Sanchez then blooped a single into the outfield to score another run for a 4-0 Faith Baptist lead.
The visitors, whose team consisted primarily of players from the Dominican Republic, Venezuela and the Bahamas, added a run in the second and two in the third. They closed the game out in the bottom of the fourth with four more runs.
Luis Esteban’s deep shot into the outfield was dropped and Yeison Gomez followed with another timely two-out hit, dropping an RBI double into the outfield to score Esteban. Walks to Bryan Soto and Bryan Garcia loaded the bases, and Sanchez took his chance again, spraying a ball down the right field line for a bases-clearing triple and an 11-0 lead.
“We’ve just got to close the deal,” said Taylor, whose South Pointe club plays Woodrow Wilson on Thursday. “We got two outs, so we’re there. We’ve just got to close it.”
Puegerro struck out all three Stallion batters in the top of the fifth for the Eagles, sending them scurrying for the warmth of a hotel room.
Faith Baptist 11, South Pointe 0
WP- Jose Monge; LP- Jake Riggins. Hitting: South Pointe- Austin Harrigan 1-2. Faith Baptist- Yeison Gomez 1-2, RBI 2B; David Rodriguez 1-1, 2 RBI 2B, BB; Bryan Garcia 1-2, 3 RBI 2B, BB; Luis Sanchez 2-3, 3B, 4 RBI.
Faith Baptist 13, Woodrow Wilson 2: The Eagles cruised to a Wheels-opening win over Woodrow Wilson High School (W.Va.) Wednesday afternoon at South Pointe. Rusber Estrada’s three-run homer led the Eagles, while Juan Campusano picked up the win on the mound.
WP- Juan Campusano; LP- Josh Rakes. Hitting: Faith Baptist- David Rodriguez 3-4, 2B; Bryan Soto 2-4, 3B; Rusber Estrada 2-4 HR 3 RBI. Wilson: Logan Wriston 2B; Brent Osborne 2B.
Northwestern 13, Mamaroneck 7
Northwestern opened the 2014 Wheels Invitational baseball tournament with a 13-7 win over Mamaroneck (N.Y.) Wednesday night.
A 10-run fifth inning helped Northwestern hold off a solid Tigers squad, and Justin Peddy picked up the win on the mound. Josh Crump went 2-for-4 for the Trojans with two runs batted in, and catcher Garrett Rast knocked in three runs with two hits. Four other players - Eric Taylor, Dupree Hart, Ryan Hardee and Peddy - knocked in runs, part of an 18-hit Trojan assault.
Mitch Walters’ team took a 1-0 lead in the top of the third when Crump‘s fielder’s choice scored Drew Patrick.
Mamaroneck claimed its first lead of the game at 3-1 in the bottom of the next inning, courtesy of a two-run double and a passed ball. That was the last lead the visitors from New York would taste though. The Trojans strung together 10 hits in the top of the fifth to score 10 runs and break the game open, 11-3.
Mamaroneck chipped away at the lead, scoring two in the sixth and two in the seventh, but there wasn’t enough juice to mount a comeback. Northwestern faces Christiansburg (Va.) tomorrow at 7 p.m.
Christiansburg 2, Marist 1
Christiansburg (Va.) knocked off Marist (N.J.) 2-1 in Wednesday afternoon’s Wheels Invitational opener at Northwestern. Ryan Saunders and Andrew McFee went 2-for-3, while McFee produced the game’s only RBI for the Blue Demons, who scored in the third and fourth innings. Marist mustered a single run in the sixth, but couldn’t mount the comeback. Christiansburg pitcher Aaron Jackson struck out five and allowed six hits to earn the win, while Marist’s Matt Littrell took the loss.