FARMINGTON — The 14ers were well on their way to finishing out the fairy tale they had been writing over the past couple of nights during Saturday's Connie Mack City Tournament championship game against the 4C-Clubsox at Ricketts Park.
Then the sixth inning happened.
Down 3-1 in the top of the sixth, the Clubsox hung a seven-run rally on the 14ers and coasted from there to pick up the 10-3 win. The champion Clubsox will now move on to host the Connie Mack World Series, which starts Friday, July 31.
The Clubsox advanced to the final by upsetting Strike Zone Morrissey 8-0 earlier in the day. That came after the 14ers drew a bye Friday night. Cam Baird was dominant for the Clubsox in the early game, striking out four batters and allowing no runs.
Strike Zone had hosted every Connie Mack World Series since 2010 until Saturday's loss sent the team packing. Adam Morrissey's bunch fell into a major scoring drought, sending only one run across the plate in two days. Clubsox leadoff hitter Kody Russell led the way on offense with three RBI, including a huge two-RBI triple in the second inning.
In the night game, the 14ers came out and showed some of the same magic that got them to the city tournament championship game. They scored a run in each of the first three innings off Clubsox starter Gunner Archuleta, including a towering home run off the bat of Zane Phelps in the third.
Wyatt Weaver relieved Archuleta to start the fourth inning and went on to pitch the final four frames. Clubsox coach Brett Alexander said Archuleta was without his best stuff, but he admired the way his starter battled.
"Gunner didn't have his changeup going, which is his best pitch," he said. "He gave us everything he had, though. He got us to Wyatt, and I knew if he could just get us to Wyatt and we could keep swinging the bats that Wyatt would just dice them up."
On the mound for the 14ers, Taed Heydinger cruised through a very potent lineup for the better part of five innings. His only blemish came courtesy of a Jeff Deimling RBI single in the top of the fifth inning. But in the sixth, Heydinger came unglued, walking two batters and committing a throwing error to load the bases.
The Clubsox made the 14ers pay from there, getting their first six hitters of the inning on base. A series of singles, a wild pitch and sacrifice fly brought seven Clubsox runners to the plate. Deimling, Russell, Phil Archuleta and Jacob Turcotte each had RBI in the sixth.
Alexander said the rally unfolded because of his team's solid approach at the plate.
"For two days, I preached getting into good hitting counts," Alexander said. "That way, it takes some pressure off of us in the box and puts it on the pitcher, because they have to throw strikes."
The 14ers used four pitchers in the sixth in an attempt to stop the bleeding, including McGhehey for just one batter, whom he walked. Coach Jared Qualls said he was eager to settle on a pitcher who threw strikes, but no 14er really managed to do that in the inning.
"We were in a position midway through that inning that if we make a few plays, it's a tie game, and we're still in it," Qualls said. "Walks are what plagued us. With Taed, against a lot of teams he would have stayed in, but we just thought (the Clubsox) would eventually make contact the way he was leaving the ball up. So we had to pull him."
The Clubsox didn't put their hitting shoes away after the sixth, either, adding two more runs in the top of the seventh.
Russell was walked to score the ninth run, and Deimling capped off the scoring with his third RBI single of the night to bring the score to 10-3.
Now, with more than two weeks off, Alexander said his immediate thought is to get his team some rest.
"We're definitely going to give the guys a few days off — we just played 14 days straight," he said. "We'll stay plugged in, we'll get a little intrasquad stuff going, but we have to get some rest first."