FARMINGTON — The Texas Stix pitchers struggled to find the strike zone, and the Midland Redskins had no trouble finding the holes in the Stix defense on Saturday night. And that combination led to a lopsided game.
The 13-time Connie Mack World Series champion Midland Redskins dismantled CMWS newcomers the Texas Stix 17-1 in just five innings on Saturday night in the fifth and final game of the opening round of the CMWS at Ricketts Park.
"We just hit a lot of balls where they weren't. We didn't knock the cover off of it, but we were hitting them in the holes and getting lucky," said Redskins assistant manager Dave Evans.
Midland struck for three runs in the top of the first inning as Stix starting pitcher Ty Damron, a Los Angeles Dodgers draftee, struggled to find the strike zone. Damron issued three walks and gave up four hits as the Redskins hit around the lineup.
A Manny Rodriguez walk drove in a run, and Jarett Rindfleisch hit a single to score another run before a Chuckie Robinson walk brought in a third Midland run.
Damron threw 43 pitches in the first inning and didn't record an out in the second inning before being relieved by Andrew Piccin, who had struggles of his own.
Midland scored seven more runs in the top of the second inning thanks to seven hits, four walks and a hit batter. The inning was highlighted by a TJ Nichting two-run single and a Andrew Benintendi two-run single.
Benintendi was 3-for-5 in the game with three RBIs and two runs scored. Zach Beckner was 4-for-4 with an RBI, two runs scored and a walk. Nichting was 3-for-4 with two RBIs and three runs scored.
Every player in the Midland lineup scored at least one run in the game as Midland piled up 17 hits and 10 free passes.
"We had some good at bats and got people in scoring position and put the bat on the ball," Evans said. "Every coach prays every guy will score a run, but it doesn't happen very often. Usually out here you come and are involved in a tight game and kids are nervous, but it was great to get three runs in the first and throw a 10-spot up in the second. That doesn't happen very often."
For the Texas Stix, who made their first ever CMWS appearance, the inability to throw strikes boiled down to jitters.
"Not even in high school games in Texas do we play in front of a crowd like this," said Stix head coach Brett Ray. "There isn't as much down time here as we would like sometimes, and the kids probably don't have as much rest, but I am not going to blame it on that. We didn't throw strikes on the bump. All the credit in the world goes to the Midland Redskins. That is a heck of a club, but it would have been a different game if we had better performances on the mound."
Midland starter Travis Lakins had a solid game on the mound. He threw a complete game and allowed just four hits. The Ohio State commit struck out seven and issued just two walks.
"This was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The best experience I have had so far with sports," Lakins said. "We have the most confidence in the world. When we play our ball, it is hard to beat us."
The Texas Stix have a short turnaround time before facing the Illinois Sparks in an elimination game at 5:15 p.m. today.
"This isn't the first time we have been in one of these tournaments fighting for our life to stay another day," Ray said. "I expect us to come out with the same mindset of doing the job we have to do, and that is win a ball game."
The Redskins have a day off before facing the Frozen Ropes in the winners' bracket.
"Every team here is really good. We have to treat them like they are the best team that we are going to play all year," Evans said. "The Frozen Ropes have had a great year and a great game (Saturday night), and we are looking forward to playing them."John Livingston can be reached at email@example.com; 505-564-4648. Follow him on Twitter @jlivi2.