The St. Joseph (Mo.) Mustangs scored four runs in the top of the second inning on Saturday night at Lawrence-Dumont Stadium, putting pitcher Adam Maddox in an ideal position. He entered the third with a healthy lead and a ton of momentum.
And then he promptly gave it away, allowing four runs to the Sedalia (Mo.) Bombers.
Maddox smiled and shook his head while recalling it after the Mustangs defeated Sedalia 9-4 in a winners bracket game in the National Baseball Congress World Series.
"It's got to be an unwritten rule of baseball that when your offense gives you a lead, you have to hold them off. I didn't do a good job of that. That's baseball," he said.
It was frustrating, though, because Sedalia scored all four runs with two outs. Maddox gave up a deep grounder to second, two straight singles and then two straight doubles by Jeremy Patton and Jose Behar.
"I felt all right in the third. I hit a little speed bump," Maddox said. "I was leaving the ball up a little bit. They're a good hitting team and they took advantage of it. I knew as long as I shut it off after that, that the defense would play behind us, and they did a great job."
Maddox regrouped and only allowed one more runner in scoring position over the next four innings. He gave up eight hits and struck out three without a walk.
"He did really well," Mustangs center fielder Greg Noble said. "He always goes out and throws a lot of strikes, which is good for the defense. He works fast, he does a good job of making the hitters get themselves out.... He had a big inning, but he did a good job of not letting that bother him."
Mustangs manager Matt Johnson agreed.
"He usually has one rough inning, usually in the third or fourth inning where he struggles a bit, second time through the lineup," Johnson said. "We just try to hang with the starters as long as we can, and that gives them the confidence that they can have time to work out of jams."
After three scoreless innings, Mustangs' designated hitter Kevin Wempe singled with one out. No. 9 hitter Kreed Kurtz followed with a single, as did Spiker Helms. That set up Noble, who lined a shot to the center field wall for a three-run double. He finished 2 for 5 with five RBIs. He also had a triple in the second inning.
"I was just trying to put the ball in play," Noble said."... I felt like I was seeing the ball pretty well."
The Mustangs added two more runs in the seventh when Don Lambert followed Brent Seifert's leadoff double with a two-run homer to right field.
In the eighth, with Sedalia trailing by five, the Bombers loaded the bases after two straight walks. St. Joseph pitcher Andy Hebrand, after giving up one of the walks, struck out the next two batters to end the threat.
"We played with a lot of confidence," Johnson said. "Anytime you get up by four and they come back with a four-spot, it can go one of two ways. You can either rebound or take it as a negative. Our guys took it as a positive. We just needed to scratch out a few more runs."
It was a disappointing final six innings for Sedalia, though.
"When the top of the order starts it off like (Travis McComack) did (in the third), we usually follow along," Behar said. "But we didn't really get any hitting after that. Just swinging and missing. Just nothing else.... When one through nine is hitting, I don't think anybody can beat us. Obviously that didn't happen."