FARMINGTON — Youth Service League starting pitcher Victor Persad apparently wasn't intimidated by the Midland Redskins' rich Connie Mack World Series history when he took the mound on Saturday evening.
Persad pitched the entire game for Youth Service League, a team out of Brooklyn, N.Y. He struck out seven batters over six innings and looked great aside from the fourth inning, when Midland generated three runs against him.
Those runs were all the Redskins needed, as they moved on in the series by besting Youth Service League 3-2 at Ricketts Park. Midland (41-3) will play the Dallas Mustangs (38-12-1) at noon Monday at Ricketts.
"He threw all fastballs. He only threw two breaking balls for strikes all night," Midland coach Dave Evans said of Persad. "You have to give him a lot of credit, he did a great job."
Youth Service League (34-16-1) brought the fight to the Cincinnati team by putting up a run in the top of the first inning, courtesy of a Joshua Mercado sacrifice grounder to score Alfonse Sadallah.
Vanderbilt University commit Patrick Raby started on the mound for the Redskins, who are competing in their 25th consecutive Connie Mack World Series. Raby settled in nicely after a shaky first inning.
"In the beginning of the game, you have some nerves, but after those two (first inning) hits, he only gave up two more hits the rest of the night," Evans said of Raby. "He was around the zone all night. He threw really well, just as he has all year."
Raby allowed a solo home run to Anthony Nunez in the top of the fourth inning, but that was the last run YSL mustered.
Persad put Midland's first three hitters of the fourth inning on base, and Stephen Scott made him pay with an RBI double. Hayden Senger then tied it on a sacrifice fly before Persad gave up the winning run on a wild pitch.
YSL coach Quintin Cedeno said he thought Persad was the victim of questionable strike calls.
"(Persad) threw some pitches that were iffy, as far as balls and strikes that didn't go our way right there on some 3-2 counts," Cedeno said. "(Midland) did a good job of putting the pressure on him after that, and he threw the wild pitch. But we still had a chance the whole way through."
With two runners on and no outs in the top of the sixth, YSL was in position to at least tie the game. But Midland reliever Seth Hardin struck out Keven Rodriguez, then Nunez grounded into a double play to end the inning.
Al Pesto closed the game with a two-out save in the top of the seventh.
YSL, which will play La Escuela de los Deportes de Carolina (21-6) at 5:15 p.m. Sunday, endured a unique situation this week when two of its players were stranded at the Albuquerque airport after a late flight from New York.
"Our regional ended late last weekend, so we weren't able to get 23 tickets for one flight on Monday morning," Cedeno said. "So we had kids flying out to all different cities, and there was a rainstorm in New York City. One of our planes didn't leave until four and a half hours after the scheduled takeoff time. So their connections had already left by the time the plane landed."
When he heard the news, the owner of Woods Insurance, Bunky Owens, sent the pilot of his private plane to Albuquerque to pick up YSL's Jurg Steiger and Jonathan Polanco.
Leading hitter: Luke Waddell, 2 for 3, 3B
WP: Patrick Raby
SV: Al Pesto
Youth Service League
Leading hitter: Anthony Nunez, HR
LP: Victor Persad