EPHRATA — Moses Lake River Dogs second baseman Emmitt Tatum shook his head after Saturday’s loss to Mid-County from Nederland, Texas.
“We’re not going to lose again in pool play,” he said. “We’re going 3-1 to the bracket.”
A little swagger from the youngest team in the Senior Babe Ruth World Series can go a long ways and Tuesday night’s 5-0 victory over Primetime from Vancouver punctuated Tatum’s bold statement with everything the U16’s have to offer. It was a matchup of last year’s 15-year-old Northwest Regional championship where the River Dogs advanced to the 15-year-old World Series in Williston, N.D. with a win.
The River Dogs exploded with five runs in the bottom half of the sixth inning, complete with an RBI shot up the middle by Cody Alvarado, who legged out an infield single. Dominic Signorelli drove one deep enough to score Jeff Sonneman. Josh Williams capped the big inning with a two-RBI single to throw the final dagger in a game that went five scoreless innings to that point.
“I was nervous, but you have to catch your breath. I stepped up with two strikes,” Williams said of his final at-bat. “I just concentrated on seeing the ball and he threw me a fastball, high and inside just the way I like it.”
Williams drove it up the middle on a line shot, River Dogs skipper Greco Signorelli had the windmill going at third waving the runners around, leaving no doubt he intended to end it right then and there.
The River Dogs had just four hits, but they were money when they needed to cash in and they will advance to the bracket portion of the tournament as the No. 2 seed from the National pool with a 3-1 record, just like the kid with the corn rows predicted.
Midway from Texas (3-0) will go in as the No. 1 seed from the National pool. Charleston, Mo. (3-0) is the No. 1 from the American pool. The rest will be sorted out on Wednesday.
A key component to the River Dogs (3-1) success has been the pitching and in the case of Tuesday night’s victory, the relief pitching. Moses Lake Cameron Cerrillo never did find the pocket, walking three to load the bases in an half-inning pitched. Signorelli wasted little time, bringing in the big right-hander from Brewster, Isaac Baker.
Baker brought the heat, relying on the fastball and he and catcher Seth Alvarado worked through the meat of the Vancouver order, getting out of the inning without giving up a run. That proved to be as big as the Brewster guy.
“Coach told me pretty early to be ready. I wasn’t expecting it to be in the first inning, but I think I pitch better under pressure,” Baker said.
It doesn’t get any more pressure packed than bases loaded with one out. But Baker found his location early and went to work.
“Seth does pretty good about framing the ball and I did pretty good in hitting my spots,” said Baker, who struck out three and gave up just one hit in four innings. “That helps the most, being able to hit the location. I felt like I threw pretty well. I need to work on my off-speed stuff for some variety. But I threw well tonight.”
Sonneman came in and slammed the door, finishing with three strikeouts in two innings of work.
Moses Lake has Wednesday off and will be back in action at 5 p.m. Thursday in Game 1 of the quarterfinals.