FARMINGTON — In the opening game of the 2015 Connie Mack World Series, the Frozen Ropes made it interesting late in the afternoon but couldn't erase a four-run deficit to oust the East Cobb Yankees.
The Yankees, representing Marietta, Ga., cruised through the afternoon with a three- or four-run lead before allowing two runs in the top half of the seventh inning. They still held on to top the Frozen Ropes, who hail from McKinney, Texas, 4-2 at Ricketts Park on Friday.
Pitcher Nic Dye secured the five-pitch save by coaxing a bases-loaded pop out from Austin Boudreaux. This came after Justin Evans, East Cobb's usual closer, struggled mightily in the seventh.
Evans walked two, hit a batter, gave up one hit and threw a wild pitch before being pulled by coach James Beavers.
"I think it was the first-game jitters in Evans' case," Beavers said. "He just couldn't find the strike zone. Sometimes, it's hard that first game to close things outs."
East Cobb (50-4) did most of its damage in the bottom of the second inning.
Five East Cobb hitters scratched out singles in the inning — three of the infield variety — highlighted by leadoff hitter Carter Hall's two-RBI hit. Evans also got an RBI base knock.
Dylan Schneider pitched the entire game for the Frozen Ropes (31-14). Coach Jordan Badarack said Schneider pitched much better than the game's score indicated.
"Schneider threw great. Realistically, they didn't hit anything out of the infield," Badarack said. "If we made a couple plays and did a little better on those infield singles, I don't think it's a 4-2 baseball game."
East Cobb second baseman Grant Berry came around in the fourth to score following a throwing error, but before that, the opening game of this year's world series was met with a half-hour rain delay.
"Any time you get that little break for a delay you lose a little bit of your focus and you let them back into it," Beavers said. "And that's just what we did with the two walks after the delay."
Zac Kristofak started the game for the Yankees but walked the first two batters after the delay and was pulled in favor of Keyton Gibson.
Gibson worked quickly and got through two and two-thirds innings without allowing a run. He struck out two. Since Kristofak couldn't make it through three innings, Gibson was credited with the win.
After Logan Moody made it through the sixth inning unscathed, the Frozen Ropes got to Evans in a hurry in the seventh. Braydon Webb and Tyler Elting each drove in runs in the inning.
Badarack said he thought his players came to the plate more focused in the seventh than they did the rest of the day.
"We're on a big stage here in Farmington, New Mexico, so I think my guys were a little excited," he said. "Then we got locked in and started grinding out those at-bats a little bit more."
East Cobb will play D-BAT Elite (31-9) at 7:30 p.m. Monday, while the Frozen Ropes will face the Bayside Yankees (32-23-1) at noon Sunday. Both games are at Ricketts Park.
And East Cobb knows it has to work on some things before the first pitch of the next game.
"We just have to take some better approaches and play a full seven innings instead of playing five or six," Beavers said. "Too often teams rely on that big offensive inning and then sleep on it, and we kind of did that today. Luckily, we got that last pop out for the win."
East Cobb Yankees
Leading hitters: Carter Hall, 3 1B, 2 RBI, SB; Justin Evans, 2 1B, RBI
WP: Keyton Gibson
SV: Nic Dye
Leading hitters: Braydon Webb, 1B, RBI, BB, R; Parker Noren: 1B, 2 BB, R
LP: Dylan Schneider