Sunday, July 13, 2014
For every team, the season comes to an end at some point, and for most, that moment comes earlier than was planned.
For the North Augusta 10-year-old All-Stars, their time came in Saturday’s final game of the round-robin stage of the Cal Ripken State Tournament at Citizens Park, where they lost 13-2 in a four-inning game against Mount Pleasant.
“I think we just kind of ran into some tough pitching,” North Augusta head coach Kevin Eidell said, adding that he was “proud” of his team.
That pitching first came from Mount Pleasant lefty Marshall Whitmer. He surrendered both North Augusta runs but allowed just one hit with three strikeouts, two walks and a hit batter in two innings.
“That’s kind of what we expect from him,” Mount Pleasant head coach Brett Fallaw said of Whitmer, who also had an RBI triple that skipped off the third-base bag. “He’s pretty consistent with his approach.”
Whitmer had the benefit of pitching with the lead the whole time, thanks to a four-run outburst from the Mount Pleasant offense in the top of the first inning. Along with his triple, Michael John Petry connected for a single, and Blake Fallaw had a double.
In all, Mount Pleasant tallied 12 hits for the game.
“That’s kind of what we try to do,” the elder Fallaw said of his team’s aggressive strategy at the plate that puts pressure on the defense.
In addition to the hits, that pressure resulted in a pair of errors that contributed to the four-run first and a three-run fourth that effectively put North Augusta away.
The “untimely errors” were a result of the solid contact Mount Pleasant put on the ball, Eidell said.
“They were definitely putting the ball in play with authority,” he said.
Tré White pitched the first three innings for North Augusta, recording a strikeout and a walk. A six-run, seven-hit third inning doomed his start, but three of the hits stayed in the infield, including a bunt single by Petry to lead off the frame.
“I thought we competed early,” Eidell said.
“I thought Tré White did a good job of throwing strikes.”
For their part, North Augusta just recorded two hits, one to start the bottom of the first by Michael Adams and the other an infield single by Logan Eidell in the third.
The elder Eidell said the experience of facing a talented team like Mount Pleasant and the variety of challenges presented will benefit the players’ development as athletes.
“I think it gives them experience. We preach team baseball, doing what it takes to help the team win,” he said.
Mount Pleasant will advance to today’s 9 a.m. championship game, where it will face James Island. The James Island squad was undefeated in the pool, but its win over Mount Pleasant was a 4-3 affair earlier on Saturday.
Fallaw said his team wouldn’t treat the chance at revenge any differently, though.
“We have the same approach to every game,” he said.
The most dominant team in any of the four brackets might be the team of 9-year-olds from Aiken so far. A perfect 4-0 in round-robin play, the team’s closest game was a 5-0 win over Mount Pleasant on Friday morning. Since then, the squad has collected winning scores of 21-2, 7-0 and 26-2 and will play in the championship game today at 9 a.m.
The Aiken 11-year-olds also advanced to their championship game with a perfect run on Saturday. After taking an 11-5 loss to Mount Pleasant on Friday afternoon, Aiken topped North Augusta 7-4 before pulling away for a 10-2 win over West Ashley. That victory set up today’s championship game against Mount Pleasant, also at 9 a.m.
Jeremy Timmerman has a journalism degree from Mercer University. Follow him on Twitter @ASJTimm.