There’s this trick that Seattle Studs coach Barry Aden likes to pull with his lineup. He just does it and hopes other teams don’t notice.
“My guy that hits in the nine-hole is my second-best one-hole guy,” Aden said. “I put him down there not out of weakness but just hoping teams will sleep on him and show him some more fastballs ... those two lefties back-to-back, with that speed on the basepaths. That’s what works for us.”
Hitting ninth for the Studs, Matt Becker rallied Seattle out of a 2-0 hole with a pair of RBIs for a 3-2 win over the Hutchinson Monarchs in a winners bracket game on Tuesday night in the National Baseball Congress World Series.
“I’m a rookie on this team, so I came in not knowing if I’d even see the field,” Becker said. “And I’ve ended up playing pretty much every game, hitting ninth, which I just look at as being the next leadoff guy.”
The Monarchs got both of their runs in the third inning, when Zack Kolakowski doubled home Sam Crabtree and reached third on an error. Kolakowski scored on a single by Brenden Miller for the 2-0 lead.
“At that point, we were doing what we’ve been doing all year,” Kolakowski said. “We’re putting the ball in the right spots, making them fight for tough outs and putting pressure on them on defense.”
Seattle started clawing its way back into the game in the fifth inning after Becker’s single off Hutchinson starter Cory Roper scored Connor Savage and made the score 2-1.
Hutchinson manager Deron McCue pulled Roper after six innings, and that’s when things began to unravel for the Monarchs. Roper, who gave up six hits, also struck out five and walked none in the no-decision.
Huchinson relief pitcher Zack Wilson threw 11 pitches, walking two batters and throwing two wild pitches. After Wilson was pulled, Michael Schoolcraft walked the bases loaded with no outs and up came Becker, who hit another single to score Brian Corliss and tie the score.
“Whenever somebody has a tough at-bat and walks somebody, I’m thinking fastball,” said Becker, a sophomore at Edmonds (Wash.) Community College. “I was sitting on it, and (Schoolcraft) threw me a red-dead fastball.”
Leadoff batter Ty Holm’s sacrifice fly brought home Savage to make the score 3-2 and turned out to be the game-winner. Holm joined the Studs before the NBC World Series after playing with their rival, the Everett Monarchs.
“For coming on so late in the summer, I feel like I’ve really got a great bond with these guys,” Holm said. “Like tonight, we were behind and you could really feel us coming together once one little, good thing happened.”
Hutchinson’s missed opportunity to extend its lead came in the sixth, when runners were on first and second with no outs and the Monarchs couldn’t get anything out of it.
“That’s a tough decision to pull Roper, but it’s so humid out that I thought it was the right move,” McCue said. “I have a lot of confidence in Zack, but that was obviously where the game got away from us.”
In relief of starting pitcher Josh Berry, Taylor Thompson was just as good on the mound as Becker and company were at the plate. Thompson picked up the win by going four innings while giving up no hits, no runs, no walks and striking out two.
“This is Taylor’s sixth year pitching for us and I think he’s maybe given up one run in over 70 innings or something crazy like that,” Aden said. “I can’t say enough about what an amazing competitor Taylor is and how he comes on and wins games for us.”
The Studs take on the winner of Tuesday’s late Clarinda (Iowa)-Santa Barbara (Calif.) game on Wednesday in the winners bracket finals. The Monarchs play again on Thursday night against an opponent to be determined.