FARMINGTON — After missing last year's Connie Mack World Series, the Southern California Renegades made their return to Ricketts Park known with a 9-2 win over the Louisiana Elite Yankees Saturday afternoon.
"We've been here five times and won it in 2012 and were runners-up in 2013, so getting off to a great start gives you the luxury of not having your backs against the wall," said Renegades coach Si Pettrow. "As the series goes on, it's only going to get tougher, so getting a good start is always good."
Renegades center fielder Brady Shockey echoed Pettrow's thoughts on the importance of getting off to a strong start in the series.
"It's pretty important, because usually playing in a tournament, we can come out kind of sluggish for the first game," said Shockey, who finished the day with three doubles and three RBIs. "Luckily, we came out big today and set the tone off right."
The game plan for the Renegades (40-5-2) was simple: score one more run than Louisiana Elite (22-7), which is based out of Mandeville, La.
"That's the first key," Pettrow said. "We want to put the ball in play, move the ball around and score when we get an opportunity to score. We're big on getting two-out hits, because that tends to kill teams."
The Renegades recorded eight hits with two outs, five of which drove in runs.
The Southern California team jumped out to an early 1-0 lead when catcher Chris Ceballos ripped an RBI double to drive in Tommy Anderson.
Louisiana Elite got on the board in the top of the third when Travis Swaggerty hit a two-RBI double to score Jeb Malley and Dylan Hardy and take a 2-1 lead.
The Renegades took the lead back in the bottom of the third, scoring two runs in the inning. After drawing a lead-off walk, Dylan Doherty scored on an RBI single from CJ Broussard. Broussard scored on the next at-bat when Louisiana Elite's Malley came up empty on a diving attempt in left field, giving Shockey the RBI.
SoCal took control in the bottom of the fourth, sending 10 batters to the plate en route to a five-run inning.
"Pitching has been our strength all year, but today we just gave too many free passes," said Louisiana Elite coach Cole Catalano, whose team walked seven batters on the day. "I've got to tip my hat to the Renegades team. We put them on base, and they got some big hits when they needed to."
Anderson and Travis Miniot both came up with RBIs in the fourth inning, and Shockey came through with a rip down the right-field line for a two-RBI double. Broussard scored on a wild pitch for the inning's fifth run to make it an 8-2 game.
The win will set up the Renegades for a round three matchup against Chicago's Prairie Gravel (24-5-2) at 5:15 p.m. Monday at Ricketts Park.
With the loss, Louisiana Elite will meet the host team 4C-Clubsox (26-7) at 7:30 tonight at Ricketts.
"This one's over. When your head hits the pillow, it's over, and it's a new day tomorrow," Catalano said. "Our focus now is solely on the Farmington team, and we'll be ready for them."
Southern California Renegades
Leading hitter: Brady Shockey, 3 2B, 3 RBI
WP: Dylan Riddle
SV: Jordan Martini
Leading hitter: Travis Swaggerty, 1B, 2B, 2 RBI
LP: Tyler Pigott