Tri-County loses in World Series championship game
WEIMAR - Tri-Counties coach Tony Neundorff had his lineup all but set for the championship game of the Babe Ruth 16-18 World Series when he arrived at Veterans Memorial Park Strickland Field on Saturday morning.
But Neundorff's plans changed drastically when he stepped out of the officials' trailer and found out Weimar's Dylan Blaha was not likely to play.
"I was thinking about a lineup, had it all made up with Dylan leading off and (Hallettsville's Carson) Schindler pitching. That was the plan," he said.
Blaha, who had pitched a three-hit shutout in Friday night's 4-0 semifinal win over Cape Cod, Mass., and was one of Tri-Counties' top hitters, went to the doctor on Saturday morning with dehydration symptoms and was advised not to play.
"Everybody was shocked," said Tri-Counties left fielder Blake McCracken of Yoakum. "He came in and he was crying and whenever he told coach and coach told us the dugout was quiet. We knew we had to play and pick it up. It just didn't work out our way."
Scott Blewett shut out Tri-Counties for six innings and led Onondaga, N.Y., to a 4-1 win to send the championship trophy back to New York for the first time since 1990.
Blewett struck out 15 and did not allow a run until the seventh, when Blaha had a pinch-hit single, stole second base and scored on a single by McCracken.
"I don't know how many lineups I made out," Neundorff said. "I couldn't come up with anything else."
Neundorff needed Schindler at shortstop so he sent Hallettsville Sacred Heart's Cade Brewer to the mound.
Brewer limited Onondaga to single runs in the second and fourth innings before Chris Davis hit a two-run home run in the sixth.
"Cade did everything we wanted him to do today," Neundorff said. "That's not the reason we lost. We had 15 strikeouts. You're not going to win many ball games when you strike out that much."
Onondaga won the American pool, which began with an 8-0 shutout of Tri-Counties.
But Tri-Counties battled back to win three straight pool games and two elimination games to come within a win of its first championship since 2002.
"The guys really came together," Neundorff said. "After the first game, they beat us 8-0. We told them if you want to stay here awhile you've got to win at least two of these next three. We ended up going 3-0 and they really came together."
Tri-Counties had six hits off of Blewett and had runners on base in every inning but the first and fifth. But Tri-Counties never had more than two hits in an inning and did not get a runner past second base until the seventh.
"He struggled early and we let him get away with that," Neundorff said of Blewett. "Later in the game he found his curveball and started using his changeup and just had us off stride."
Tri-Counties kept itself within striking distance with its defense. Justin Neiser in center field and McCracken in left each threw out a runner at the plate, and Schindler turned a shortstop to first base double play.
"We knew we had to execute," Neundorff said. "We had to play small ball. When we executed, things came through."
Blaha sat in the dugout and talked his way into the game in the seventh. He gave the University of Houston-Victoria a preview of what to expect in the upcoming season when he singled to left field.
"It was very tough not being able to play," Blaha said, "especially with us not hitting the ball."
Coming so close to a World Series championship at its home park was disappointing for the Tri-Counties players. But the team was a young one, and should be competitive next year.
"We had a good pitching staff and the defense played solid," McCracken said. "I think we'll be back next year."
Onondaga 4, Tri-Counties 1
Tri-Counties 000 000 1 - 1 6 2
Onondaga 010 102 x - 4 9 1
Scott Blewett and Gabe Levanti. Cade Brewer, Chris Jones (7), Weston Seay (7) and Colby Mica. W: Blewett. L: Brewer. HR: (O) Chris Davis (2-run). 2B: (O) Eric Hamilton. Highlights: (TC) Brewer 2 for 3; Blake McCracken 1 for 3, RBI; Dylan Blaha 1 for 1, R, SB. (O) Blewett 7 IP, 6 H, 0 BB, 15 K; Brett Charbonneau 2 for 2, 2 RBIs; Davis 1 for 2, HR, 2 RBIs; Alex Caruso 1 for 1, R; Hamilton 1 for 2, 2B, R; Ryan O'Kane 1 for 2.