FARMINGTON — Jake Elliott wasn't able to deliver Strike Zone Baseball a win in Round 1 of the 2012 Connie Mack World Series. On Friday, Elliott won a first round game of the 2013 CMWS, but this time he was pitching against Strike Zone.
Elliott, a 6-foot-7 right-handed pitcher who is committed to Oklahoma University, pitched five innings and earned a win against his former club as D-BAT Leach defeated Strike Zone 7-3 on Friday night at Ricketts Park.
"This is an awesome tournament, especially when you throw in front of that many people and can have fun with it," Elliott said after pitching in front of a sold-out crowd at Ricketts. "My experience last year playing for the host team prepared me for this year and what to expect. It calmed my nerves a lot."
Elliott allowed six hits and three runs in the game. He struck out six Strike Zone batters and didn't issue a walk.
"I wanted to start my team off on a good note with a win and get days off until Monday," Elliott said. "The defense behind me was awesome and our bats were, too. All summer our bats have been scoring a lot of runs for our pitching staff, which helps us pound the strike zone."
D-BAT struck quickly in the bottom of the first inning with two runs thanks to two Strike Zone Baseball errors.
"The guys were a little tense in the first inning. We just had to get through it and then start playing baseball," said Strike Zone head coach Adam Morrissey. "It is a shame a couple of mistakes right there cost us a couple of runs early. We settled into it, but I expected the guys to be tense at first in front of all the people."
D-BAT added another run in the third inning when Kramer Robertson drove in Sheldon Neuse with a single after Neuse hit a one-out triple.
Robertson was 2-for-3 in the game with a double, two RBIs and a run scored.
"I wasn't trying to do too much other than put the ball in play," said Robertson, an LSU commit who is the son of Baylor University women's basketball coach Kim Mulkey. "It was fun being back here in this tournament. None of us had nerves or anything. It was just fun."
Strike Zone made the game interesting for a while when they struck for two runs in the third inning on a Jacy Cave home run -- the first of the 2013 CMWS -- that scored Cody Bower.
Bower had ripped a double after Matt Martin led off the inning with a single, but Martin was thrown out at home plate on Bower's double that went to the left-center field wall.
The relay from Nick Ramos to Neuse at shortstop and then on to catcher Jesse Rogers was perfect, but Rogers appeared to miss the tag on Martin, who was called out by the home plate umpire.
Strike Zone scored just one more run, coming in the fifth inning on a Matt Huffhines double that scored Jeremy Johnson.
A sacrifice fly by D-BAT's Ryan Thomas scored Rogers in the bottom of the fourth, and D-BAT held a 4-3 lead going to the sixth inning when both Elliott and Strike Zone starting pitcher Ian Doughty were pulled.
Doughty left after giving up five hits and four runs -- two earned. He walked just one and struck out three.
Doughty was relieved by B.J. Myers, an import pitcher from Dallas who is committed to West Virginia University. The move didn't work as Myers gave up four hits and three runs without recording an out. Clay Miller limited the damage after coming on in relief of Myers, but it was already too late as D-BAT took a 7-3 lead.
"Doughty's pitch count was getting up there, and D-BAT had the four through six hitters coming up for their third time through the lineup," Morrissey said. "Ian had great stuff on the mound and gave us a great start. As a competitor, you are always frustrated when you come out at that point in the game. I tried to explain to him why I did it."
Quinton Pile and Neuse both pitched one inning for D-BAT to close out the game and give D-BAT a win.
D-BAT will face East Cobb on Monday in the winners bracket. Strike Zone will face the loser of Southern California and Puerto Rico.
"East Cobb is a traditional power that will be a tough matchup," Robertson said. "I am confident in what we do that we will win."
Strike Zone will now focus on regrouping and trying to win Sunday to earn a bye until Wednesday.
"I told the guys we can't change anything that happened in this game. We have to make adjustments and be ready on Sunday," Morrissey said.
John Livingston covers sports for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4648 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @jlivi2.