By Scott Zeidman
Although the Babe Ruth Baseball’s travel agents didn’t do Westside Baseball’s Westchester Babe Ruth 14U All Stars any favors in the opening game of the Babe Ruth 14U World Series in Moses Lake, Washington, nothing could stop Westchester as it opened up the World Series with a 7-1 victory over the Pacific Northwest Champion, Mound Time of Oregon.
The Westchester players took an afternoon flight on Friday from LAX to Seattle, by way of Sacramento, where they boarded a bus for a three plus hour drive to Moses Lake.
Due to a variety of reasons, the team did not arrive in Moses Lake until 1 a.m. Sunday morning, wherein they endured a long orientation meeting. Finally paired up with their host families, the players arrived at their week-long homes past 2 a.m. with an early wake up call for the “Breakfast of Champions” and then Opening Ceremonies. After a few hours of much needed rest, the team was scheduled to face Pacific Northwest Champion Oregon at 8 p.m. Saturday evening.
It came as no surprise when the players showed up for pregame game lethargic. Yet, come game time, at least the bats were awake. The visiting Westchester team opening up the game with leadoff hitter Justin Morris taking a pitch to the shoulder. Kelvin Murillo executed a perfect hit and run, singling to right as the Oregon second basemen moved to cover second. With runners on first and third, Aaron Greenfield singled to right, scoring Morris. Nolan Martinez then singled to right, scoring Murillo. Saul Martinez grounded into a double play, plating Greenfield, and Westchester had a 3-0 lead heading into the bottom of the first.
Westchester Manager Hector Zamora chose Nolan Martinez to start on the mound. Martinez was a bit shaky, walking two and striking out two, before Oregon’s Kyle Thompson singled to left, making the score 3-1. Martinez induced Oregon’s Matt Clark to ground to first ending the inning and the threat. After Westchester failed to score in the top of the second, Martinez took the mound holding the 3-1 lead. It became obvious that this just wasn’t Martinez’ day, as he hit a batter and walked another, putting runners on first and second with one out. Zamora, having seen enough, went to relief pitcher Dominic Johnson. The decision by Zamora proved to be brilliant, as Johnson pitched the game of his life. After giving up a bunt single to load the bases, Johnson pitched out of the jam striking out Oregon’s number three hitter, Casey McGough, and getting the Oregon cleanup hitter, Renner Stecki to pop weekly to second to end the inning and Oregon’s only real chance.
Johnson, who earned game MVP honors, mowed down Oregon the rest of the way, giving up five hits while striking out three. The effective Johnson didn’t walk an Oregon batter in route to the World Series victory. Westchester scored a single run in the fourth inning, as first basemen Derek Marshall doubled to right, went to third on a Johnson ground out, and scored on a Dailin Lee line drive single to center. Westchester plated two more in the top of the fifth. Murillo walked, stole second, and scored on a Greenfield fly to left that was mishandled by the Oregon defender. Third basemen Saul Martinez doubled to right and pinch runner Brandon Brown scored on a wild pitch, giving Westchester a 5-1 lead in the fifth. Westchester scored solo runs in the sixth and the seventh giving them the 7-1 victory.
After the game, Johnson was understandably excited, “It was a very important game. We’ve had some problems in the past in the first game, but today the players really picked things up. With such a great defensive team behind me, I knew all I had to do was throw strikes. I knew that we would score runs. Just look at this lineup, one through nine, these guys can rake!”