FARMINGTON — With the season hanging in the balance, Jacy Cave and Tristin Rizek came up with two of the biggest hits of their lives.
Cave's RBI-single and Rizek's two-run home run gave Strike Zone Baseball the lead in the bottom of the sixth. In the end, they beat Puerto Rico's Arecibo Lobos 9-5, eliminating them from the Connie Mack World Series on Sunday night at Ricketts Park.
"All day, they were ready to play," said Strike Zone head coach Adam Morrissey of his team. "In the middle of the game, their second guy shut us down a bit, but we kept plugging away. It was a good feeling all day today."
Cave's single to left field scored Cody Bower from second base, giving Strike Zone the 6-5 lead.
"I was just looking for a pitch to drive into the outfield and hoped it would score Cody," Cave said. "I saw my pitch and took a good swing at it."
Following a Puerto Rico pitching change, Tristin Rizek smashed the first pitch out of the hand of Lobos' reliever Jose Chaparro over the left field wall to give Strike Zone an 8-5 cushion.
"It was a new pitcher, and I was just trying to look for my pitch. It came right down the middle," said Rizek who was 3-for-4 with four RBIs in the win. "I was just trying to get a base knock and help out the team. I've had a few big base knocks at state, but nothing like this in a world series."
Strike Zone tacked on one more run in the inning, before Clay Miller came on in relief to record the final three outs and lock up the victory.
Both teams got off to fast starts with the bats.
Puerto Rico scored three runs off of Strike Zone starter Connor Mayes, who has committed to the Texas Longhorns, in the top of the first inning.
The Strike Zone batters answered with four runs in the bottom half thanks to a two-RBI double by Rizek and a two-run single by Danny Rowley, who went 4-for-4 at the plate.
Both teams scored a run in the second, with Strike Zone regaining the lead on an RBI double by Matt Martin to score Matt Huffhines, giving the host team a 5-4 advantage after two innings.
Following the second inning, Morrissey removed Mayes in favor of Indalecio Romo, who proceded to shut down the Lobos over the next four innings.
"I had all my pitches going. I was just trying to keep us in the game," said Romo, who allowed one unearned run on two hits. "I wasn't throwing hard, but man, it's awesome. I'm so pumped. I've never seen anything like this before."
Romo, who plays for Eastern Arizona College, struck out five Lobos in four innings of work while walking only one.
The lone run Arecibo scored came in the top of the fifth inning to tie the game.
Connor Dugan bobbled a ground ball to third allowing Angel Perez to score.
Strike Zone will have a bye until Wednesday in the tournament, giving the team a chance to rest its pitchers and come in ready with a full bullpen.
"We're good to go at full strength with a couple of days off," Morrissey said.