FARMINGTON — The East Cobb Yankees started the Connie Mack World Series with a performance befitting of a five-time champion.
The Yankees knocked off the South Troy Dodgers 6-0 in the tournament's opening game on Friday night at Ricketts Park.
East Cobb starter Payton Smith threw five and two-third shutout innings, guiding the Yankees to a strong start in the series.
"It wasn't my greatest stuff today," said Smith, who struck out four Dodgers and walked two in the outing. "But when we have hitters come up like we do, producing runs, I just had to throw strikes and let them play defense behind me."
The Yankees' offense provided Smith, an Appalachian State commitment, with all the run support he would need, with four runs in the second inning and two more in the third.
East Cobb third baseman Brandon Gold put the Georgia-based team on the board with an RBI double to score catcher Jason Delay.
"I saw a couple pitches and was able to foul them off. I just trusted my hands and my coaches and everything they've told me the two years I've been with them," said Gold, who went 2 for 2, with two doubles and three RBI in the win. "A good result happened. Our hitting and our speed is the key part of our game. It's always a good start when you can put together quality at-bats."
Gold then came around to score following a single by right fielder Eric Knox.
The Dodgers struggled defensively in the inning with a pair of throwing errors leading four runs on three hits.
South Troy head coach Kevin Rogers knows his squad will need to fix the mistakes if it wants to prolong its CMWS stay.
"I think we came in a little nervous. I was hoping we'd be able to shake it off and avoid that big inning," Rogers said. "We didn't play well, that's for sure. Hopefully, they'll bounce back."
East Cobb tacked on to its 4-0 lead with a pair of runs in top of third.
Gold hit his second double of the contest to score Delay and designated hitter Nathaniel Lowe to give the Yankees a 6-0 lead.
The crowd gave the Yankees a jolt of energy at the start of the game, and Gold said the momentum carried his team through the early innings.
"It's unforgettable and life changing. You just can't forget the feeling when you run out there for the first time," he said. "When you look up and see thousands of people, it's amazing. I've never played in front of more than 500 people before."
Kevin Connolly struggled in his start for the Dodgers, allowing four runs (three earned) in two innings while being saddled with the loss.
Rogers is expecting a better effort from his New York-based team -- which won't play again until Tuesday after receiving a bye in the losers' bracket -- in all aspects of the game.
"We're going to give them the day off, then practice for a couple days," Rogers said. "Our team is built on playing defense, but our pitchers weren't really sharp. I don't know if it was the jet lag or what, but they weren't really throwing that hard. I give credit to East Cobb, though."
East Cobb will be back in action Monday facing D-BAT Leach in the winners' bracket, and Yankees head coach James Beavers hopes his team will keep improving as the tournament continues.
"We just have to get used to this environment the first day," Beavers said. "It was good for everybody to come out and get a feel for everything."
Joshua Perry covers sports for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4577 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @jperrysuu.