FARMINGTON — The Illinois Sparks extended their Connie Mack World Series stay with a victory over the Texas Stix.
The Sparks took advantage of four Stix errors on their way to a 9-3 victory on Sunday at Ricketts Park.
"It feels good," said Sparks head coach Garrick Pranchke on staying alive in the tournament. "We hit the ball a lot better today, and, hopefully, we can keep it going."
Illinois scored seven runs in the third inning and never looked back as the Stix became the first team eliminated from the CMWS.
A day earlier against the Frozen Ropes, the Sparks committed costly errors that led to the loss, but Illinois was aided in its third-inning rally by a pair of errors on bunt attempts that loaded the bases and sparked the seven run onslaught.
"The bunts will kill you. Those errors opened up the whole inning," Pranchke said. "We took advantage of those errors and kept putting the pressure on."
Following the errors, Dan Durkin ripped a two-run double for the Sparks to put Illinois on the board.
Durkin said his teams' improved approach at the plate was key in the scoring outburst.
"I think the first game we pressed a little bit," said Durkin, who went 2-for-4 at the plate in the win. "The first game in front of the fan, we came out a little tight, but now we're ready to go."
The Stix had multiple opportunities to work their way back into the game, but Sparks starting pitcher Matt Miller got through a few bases loaded jams.
"At first, I was a little nervous. I just kept my composure and got out of a couple big jams," said Miller, who allowed two runs in five innings on work. "I just battled and made the pitches I wanted to make."
Miller struck out nine and walked three while earning the win for Illinois.
Texas Stix starting pitcher Zach Kornely took the loss after allowing seven runs in two and two-third innings.
The Stix have set their sights on trying to make it back to the CMWS after a disappointing early exit from the tournament.
"We want to make this an every year thing. We're already thinking about next year and how to get back," said Texas Stix head coach Brett Ray.
The Sparks will await the loser of the today's game between the East Cobb Yankees and D-BAT Leach.
Pranchke said his team will need strong outings out of its pitching staff if it hopes to advance further in the tournament.
"Our pitchers have to work ahead. If they aren't throwing first pitch strikes, then we get beat," Pranchke said. "We have to play defense too. We had a couple errors that hurt us today. We can't dumb plays. We're better than that. If we can clean it up and play a little small ball and do things right, then we'll be fine."