FARMINGTON — D-BAT Gallegos entered the Connie Mack World Series with the distinction of being the youngest team in the tournament, but the Dallas-based squad exited with another honor — series champions.
The team out of Texas knocked off the 13-time series champion Midland Redskins twice on Friday evening at Ricketts Park, including a 7-5 win in the final game to secure the title.
"I think we shocked the world with a bunch of 17-year-olds and a couple 18-year-olds," D-BAT manager Roberto Gallegos said. "They're just grinders. We knew we had a chance. We just had to make sure we gelled as team."
Coming into the series, the odds were stacked against D-BAT Gallegos.
The South Plains Regional champs entered the tournament as the youngest team, with only two 18-year-olds on the roster.
The D-BAT bunch didn't let that deter them, though, as they battled through a tough bracket to meet the Redskins in the final. After a loss to Midland on Wednesday, the team needed two wins against the East Central Regional champs out of Cincinnati to claim the title.
After a seventh-inning rally gave D-BAT a win in the first game of the doubleheader, the Redskins jumped out to a 5-2 lead in the second game and looked ready to claim the championship.
D-BAT fought back in the fifth with two runs, but it looked as though the Dallas team should have earned three.
With two runners on, Tony Santillan crushed a ball to left field that appeared to hit the bottom of the Jumbotron behind the wall and bounce back into play. But umpires ruled the ball hit the wall. The double cut Midland's lead to 5-4, while a homer would have tied the score.
"I thought that was gone," Santillan said. "But I got the two runs in and that switched the ball game right around."
D-BAT did tie the game an inning later after a miscue in center field.
Cody Farhat hit a single that slipped under the glove of D.J. Wilson, allowing the D-BAT outfielder to reach third. He scored a batter later on a sacrifice fly from Braden Williams, tying the game at 5-5.
D-BAT then took the lead with a two-run single from Lucas Wakamatsu with the bases loaded in the seventh inning.
A mix of errors and walks put three runners on for the D-BAT shortstop, who hammered a ball off the top of the left field wall, giving Gallegos the 7-5 lead.
"I was trying to be aggressive and see a fastball," Wakamatsu said. "I thought it was gone, but the white wall got me."
Santillan closed out the game on the mound, sitting down the Midland side to lock up the championship.
"Throw strikes, dominate and pound the zone — that was my mindset coming onto the mound," said Santillan, who threw 3 1/3 scoreless innings to pick up the win on the mound. "That always keeps the team in the ball game.
Santillan, one of four regional pickups from the Dallas Mustangs, said he wasn't sure how much playing time he'd get, but he was ready to help out in any way possible.
"(Gallegos) said that he'd play me more than I thought, and he kept his word," said Santillan, who was named the series MVP. "I got more time than I thought."
The Redskins opened the scoring in the bottom of the first inning to take an early advantage in the title game.
Center fielder Wilson led off with a single and was replaced on first base by Brandon Montgomery after a fielder's choice.
Montgomery then came around to score on a double down the right field line by Greg Deichmann.
D-BAT responded an inning later in the top of the second with a pair of runs.
Noah Hill's two-run single to left field scored Brendan Venter and Farhat to give Gallegos its first lead of the game.
"We made too many mistakes. You can't make four errors and beat anybody," Midland manager Dave Evans said. "We just came up a little short."
Midland bounced back in the bottom of the third inning as the top of the Redskins' order came through again.
Wilson led off with a single and scored on a single from Deichmann after a sacrifice bunt.
Deichmann then gave Midland the lead after Justin Smith ripped a double to the right field gap.
The Redskins added to their advantage in the bottom of the fourth inning.
Montgomery ripped a two-run double over the Josh Watson's head, scoring Ty Duvall and Liam Sabino, who both reached on walks.
D-BAT Gallegos knocked off Midland 6-2 in the day's first game to set up the winner-take-all match up.
Gallegos' team scored two runs in the top of the first inning to take the lead over Midland.
The first four Gallegos hitters reached as Venter's bases-loaded single scored Trent Clark for the game's first run.
D-BAT scored again two batters later on a sacrifice fly from Farhat to deep right field, scoring Watson from third.
Midland answered in the bottom of the second inning with its first run of the game.
Greyson Jenista reached after being hit by a pitch and then scored three batters later on a two-out single up the middle by Hayden Senger.
The Redskins tied the score in the bottom of the third inning.
After back-to-back singles by Montgomery and Deichmann, Smith's grounder to the shortstop brought home Montgomery to knot the score 2-2.
D-BAT rallied for four runs in the top of the seventh inning, forcing the decisive game.
Midland has gone three years without a title, last winning in 2011.
"I told these guys this is just one phase of their baseball career," Evans said. "It's tough to lose in a championship game, and if you don't like that feeling, then don't let it happen.
The D-BAT victory ended an 18-year title drought for Dallas. The city's last championship came in 1996 from Sam Carpenter's Dallas Mustangs.
"It's a team of destiny," Gallegos said. "We came along and just played baseball. It's awesome."