Ty Kildow had a seam mark across a swollen left cheek after his Kansas Cannons beat Impact Sports 7-4 on Sunday night, the result of an attempted sacrifice bunt gone awry.
Kildow has undoubtedly felt worse. A former running back at the University of Nebraska, he is accustomed to hard contact. He’s also used to shaking it off, as he did in that at-bat, which turned into an infield single.
Kildow, a speedy 5-foot-7, 175-pound outfielder, performed optimally at the top of the Cannons’ order, reaching base five times with three hits as his team avoided elimination with a losers bracket win in the National Baseball Congress World Series at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium.
The Cannons took advantage of early wildness from a pair of Impact Sports pitchers then rode Kildow’s ignition to advance to play the Seattle Studs on Tuesday.
"He’s the biggest spark plug I think I’ve ever coached. It seems like he’s always on base," Cannons manager Kyle Touchatt said. "He’s the fastest guy, pretty much, that I’ve ever seen. He’s ... raw, but he’s always on base. When a runner is that fast, he changes the whole dynamic of the game."
Kansas didn’t need a spark from Kildow or anybody else in the top of the first — all it needed was to watch as Impact Sports starter Alex Herz, and then Vincent Ramirez, unraveled.
Kildow got hit by the first pitch of the game and Herz didn’t get much closer to finding the plate after that. He threw nine pitches, all balls, before Ramirez relieved him. Ramirez fared no better, walking the first two batters he faced on eight total pitches. That added up to 17 balls before the first strike. The Cannons turned that self-destruction, which included a throwing error that allowed a run to score, into four runs without collecting a hit.
"The way I see it, the pressure is going to be on (Ramirez)," Kildow said of Impact Sports looking for a turnaround by going to the bullpen early in the game. "He’s coming into the game not starting, so he’s not mentally ready to go. He’s got to come into the game in the first inning with the bases loaded, so we’ve got to put the pressure on him and I think we did a good job of that by putting up four in the first inning."
The Cannons had difficulty finding a rhythm after the plodding start, as they threw three wild pitches and committed an error. But they continued to add to the lead and hold off rallies even as Impact Sports’ pitchers continued to be, as Touchatt said, "effectively wild."
Impact Sports issued seven walks but had trouble getting ahead in the count, limiting Cannons’ running opportunities but not quashing their timely hitting. Levi Meyer, Corey Cowan and Blaine Hashagen combined for four RBIs without a hit, using Impact Sports’ wildness to their advantage.
"I couldn’t really get a running game going. I couldn’t really do much because we were always in a hitter’s count and I didn’t want to take that away from our hitters," Touchatt said. "We came away with four runs (in the first inning) and we didn’t give in and swing at bad pitches."
Seattle has allowed one run in the tournament, so the Cannons likely won’t be the beneficiary of mistakes in their next game. That’s a problem for another day, though, as Sunday they were satisfied with a sloppy win.