FARMINGTON— Strike Zone entered the Connie Mack City Championship needing two wins over 4-Corners to earn the title as champion and host team for the 2014 Connie Mack World Series. They got them, beating the Club Sox 8-0 in game one and 4-3 in the deciding game two.
"We went down Thursday night to (4-Corners), we had our off day, we sat down, made our adjustments and the kids came out and responded incredibly," Strike Zone coach Adam Morrissey said after the wins. "All the credit goes to these guys for being able to do that and I love every one of them."
In the bottom of the first of game, one a pair of singles from Casey Dunlap and Matt Knickerbocker got things going for Strike. Dunlap would go on to score the game's first run on a Connor Calvert chopper to short.
Leading off the third, Dunlap, who finished the game 4-4, hit a shot off the wall in left go get the Strike Zone offense going again.
"He's the guy that's got us going and got us started out of the lead off spot all year," said Strike Zone head coach Adam Morrissey. "He's done a great job."
On the next at bat, Matt Knickerbocker singled to left to put runners on the corners with no outs. But they weren't on base long as Austin Davis hit a bomb over the left field wall to make it 4-0 Strike Zone.
While the Strike Zone offense was rolling, adding two more in the fourth, Justin Phillips kept the 4-Corners lineup stagnant.
"We had good at bats, we just didn't square a lot of balls up and when we did we didn't put a lot of pressure on them," 4-Corners coach Brett Alexander said of the Club Sox game one production.
After forcing game two, Morrissey elected to send Phillips back to the mound to start game two for Strike Zone.
"Yeah, we're turning him around and we're going for it," Morrissey said. "That's what we wanted to do today and they did it to a T, so we're ready to go for game two."
Game two started with more of the same from the Strike Zone offense.
With two on and two outs in the bottom of the first, Strike Zone left fielder Lance Lee hit a shot over the left field wall for a three-run jack to take an early 3-0 lead.
In the top of the third, 4-Corners got some help when Zach Ahlgrim hit a grounder to third, that looked to set up the inning ending double play, but Lawrence Mayberry bobbled the ball, allowing Matt Martin to advance to second and Ahlgrim to reach first.
But during the next at bat any momentum was negated when Tristin Rizek was called out for batter interference following a pitch in the dirt that had Martin on the move to third.
The Club Sox got on the board in the top of the fourth when Dayne Rowley hit a bloop single over first base to score a hard-running David Montoya from second.
Entering the top of the fifth down 3-1, Martin with lead off with a single for the Club Sox and touched home on a Zach Ahlgrim home run over the left field wall, sending half the 4-Corners dugout over the railing to meet him at the plate .
With two outs in the bottom of the fifth, Connor Calvert took the lead for Strike Zone, crushing the ball over left field for a solo shot.
"They'd been going in on me all game and getting me to roll over and I had a feeling they were going to go in, so I stepped open a little bit and made them pay for it," Calvert said. "It was awesome because Zach (Ahlgrim) just hit a two-run jack and it's huge for me to go out there with two outs and hit one out because then it gives us the momentum coming back into the last couple innings."
Calvert's homer would be the deciding run in the game, sending Strike Zone on to the 2014 Connie Mack World Series after Jacob Torcotte popped up to Isaiah Mayberry, who found himself on the bottom of a dog pile after recording the final out.
With the second-place finish 4-Corners earns a spot in the South Plains Regional Connie Mack Tournament in Enid, Okla., where they'll play the Texas Stix on July 22.