Haysville Heat pitcher Kyle Cremers empathized with his counterpart, the Valley Center Diamond Dawgs' Tobin Mateychick, who threw four wild pitches in the first inning on Friday night at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium.
"You don't ever want to see anybody go out and have a bad day," Cremers said. "... Sometimes you can catch yourself overthrowing (to pull yourself out of it). But there's a domino effect. It spirals in. You might make good pitches, but bleeders get through. It's tough."
Those four wild pitches, coupled with two hits and an error, led to five runs by Haysville in the first winners bracket game of the National Baseball Congress World Series' third round. The Heat went on to run-rule Valley Center 9-1 in eight innings to improve to 3-0.
"We needed to be a little more mentally tough than we were," Valley Center manager Pat Hon said. "(Mateychick) thought we struck out (Haysville second baseman Clint Stroud), they didn't call it and he ended up walking him on the next pitch. He felt like he had the strikeout; it was a borderline call.
"And that's when you have to step up, make a play. And then we make an error and they get a hit and things go downhill."
Mateychick opened the game by striking out Justin Miller but gave up a double to Nate Shaver on a 1-1 pitch. With two outs, he got to a 2-2 count with Stroud before walking him.
On a 1-2 pitch to Ben Harty, Mateychick's pitch went to the backstop and Shaver scored from third for the first run of the game. Harty followed with an RBI single, then Mateychick threw another wild pitch to Gary Owens. On his next pitch, he walked Owens.
Then, pitching to Brock Green with two runners on, Mateychick threw another wild pitch and the runners advanced to second and third. He walked Green on the next pitch, the second straight batter that he walked on four straight pitches.
Clint McKeever hit a fly to short right field that landed just fair as three players raced to make the catch. That scored two runs for the 3-0 lead.
It didn't get any better for Mateychick. On his first pitch to No. 9 hitter Ben Kline, he threw another wild pitch and Green scored from third for the inning's fifth run.
"In that situation with a wild pitch, you're definitely looking for the ball to go to the backstop," Green said. "It kicked off the backstop. I was a little worried about it. Luckily I got there in time.... With a big backstop, you've got to take the chance."
Haysville added two runs in the fifth and eighth innings.
The poor first inning not only resulted in a shortened night by Mateychick — he was replaced by Gil Rehwinkel to start the second — but Valley Center couldn't recover against Cremers.
Cremers threw five strong innings, scattering six hits, giving up one run, walking one and striking out three for his second win of the tournament.
"My fastball, I located it pretty well, and my slider and changeup worked well, too," Cremers said.
"He pitched a good game," said Harty, Haysville's catcher, who was 4 for 5 with two RBIs and two runs scored. "He's awfully good at locating all his pitches, and that's what makes him successful. He's able to throw it where he wants it."
That Valley Center allowed such a big inning frustrated Hon.
"All of our losses this year were when we couldn't avoid the big inning," he said. "It could be five in the first, four in the seventh in a close game. I've told them, if we can avoid the big inning, minimize the damage, we have a chance."