Sam Stafford's back didn't feel right earlier in the tournament, forcing him to miss his turn to pitch against Liberal.
Tough break, especially since Santa Barbara (Calif.) fell into the losers bracket after losing that game. Stafford and the Foresters are back on track after Tuesday's 6-1 elimination win over Sedalia (Mo.) in the National Baseball Congress World Series at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium. The Foresters advance to tonight's quarterfinal round.
The Bombers didn't see anything wrong with Stafford, a junior at Texas. He struck out nine and scattered five hits over seven innings.
"He was throwing hard, a good fastball, and he backed it up with a really good breaking ball," Sedalia's Stuart Jeck said. "It just fell off the table."
With that working, Stafford cruised through most of his outing. He retired seven consecutive batters beginning in the second inning and didn't allow a run until the sixth.
"I was trying to get ahead with my fastball, and my curveball is my strikeout pitch," he said. "That's normally my 1-2 punch."
Stafford did give the Bombers chances to break through. He walked a batter and gave up a single in the first. A flyball ended the inning. In the fourth, a sliding catch by centerfielder Jeremy Rathjen kept runners at second and third. Jeck struck out to end the threat.
In the seventh, Stafford's legs tired and Sedalia loaded the bases with one out. Stafford struck out Nate Ring on a high fastball, likely getting him to swing at ball four. Jonathan Wegener went down looking for the third out.
"I needed to recollect and make sure I wasn't rushing anything," Stafford said. "Luckily, I was able to get out of it."
The Foresters continued to hit with power, smacking three home runs and two doubles. Kyle Kubitza gave them a 1-0 lead with a homer in the first inning. Walker Moore made it 3-0 with a two-run shot to left in the fourth. James Wharton ended the scoring with a solo homer in the eighth.
The Foresters lead the NBC with eight home runs.
"We're making them pay when the ball is up in the zone," Moore said. "We've got some big guys who can drive the ball."
That's not all the Foresters can do. Manager Bill Pintard called Tuesday's win his team's first well-rounded game in Wichita. Moore gave him reason to say that in the fifth by pushing a bunt past the pitcher to score Kubitza from third base.
"I go to Cal State Fullerton, and that's our game," Moore said. "We do a little bit of everything. Executing like that is what wins games."