FARMINGTON — Game 17 of the Connie Mack World Series went as well as Prairie Gravel could have hoped. The Chicago-based team blew out D-BAT Elite 14-1 in the elimination game Wednesday at Ricketts Park.
The first at-bat of the first inning summed up the way things would go for Dallas' D-BAT squad as Prairie Gravel's Jake VanderWal saw four pitches, all balls, to draw the lead-off walk.
In the next at-bat, Jack Yalowitz doubled into the gap in right center to score VanderWal, recording the first of eight runs for Prairie Gravel (26-6-2) in the inning.
"We shook up the lineup a little bit, and I don't know if that had anything to do with it, but we put the bats on the ball, and we executed," Prairie Gravel coach Sam Sorce said of his team's offensive explosion. "That's all you can ask. Just go up to the plate and barrel it up."
After Jeremy Eierman reached on a D-BAT (32-11) error, Daulton Ryans and Michael Massey came up with back-to-back RBIs to push the lead to 3-0 with just one out. Three more runs were scored on D-BAT miscues, stretching the lead to 6-0.
Then, in his second plate appearance of the inning, VanderWal hit one off the top of the wall in right center. The ball bounced off the wall and got past the D-BAT right fielder, rolling back toward the infield. With the extra time, VanderWal turned around third and slid into home for the two-RBI, in-the-park home run, which extended Prairie Gravel's lead to 8-0.
"I wasn't sure where it went because of the white wall. I heard it hit the wall, so I thought I was going to have a standup triple, but something must have happened," VanderWal said. "(Sorce) was sending me, and I was kind of coasting into third, so I had to break down and run into home. It all worked out, I guess."
The second inning started similarly — with a lead-off walk, this time to Prairie Gravel's Eierman. After a Ryans single, Massey hit an RBI single that scored Eierman. In the next at-bat, Oremus doubled to bring in Massey and put up 10 runs for Prairie Gravel.
D-BAT retired the first two batters in the top of the third, but then a walk to Yalowitz sparked Prairie Gravel's offense. Eierman stepped up to the plate next and singled. And then Ryans drew a walk to load the bases for Massey.
Massey recorded a single — his third RBI in as many at-bats — to push another run across and make it an 11-0 game.
Oremus stepped into the box next and hit a hard grounder to D-BAT shortstop Cade Harris. But Harris couldn't handle it, and the ball rolled into the outfield, allowing two more runs.
"I don't know if there was a specific issue. They were ready to go this morning, they were excited," said D-BAT Coach Ryan Nelson. "That was just one of those games where you show up ready, but things just don't go right. Some of the errors that we made were from guys that hadn't made errors all year. It was just one of those games."
Prairie Gravel recorded another two-out run in the fourth with an RBI single from Yalowitz that made it 14-0.
D-BAT got on the board in the bottom of the fourth with an RBI single from pinch hitter Andrew Bolin that scored Robert Salazar.
D-BAT then loaded the bases with one out after Braden Williams drew a walk, but the Prairie Gravel relief pitcher got out of the inning without any more damage.
With the win, Prairie Gravel will keep its Connie Mack run alive by playing the Midland Redskins (43-3) at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Ricketts Park.
"It's unreal," VanderWal said of his time in Farmington. "My dad (John VanderWal) came down here in '83 and '84, and he told me it was one of the greatest experiences he ever had. I've heard a lot of great things about it, but to come down here and live it, it's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. If you walk around town, it's almost like you're a celebrity. The whole experience is unreal. I'm really honored to be able to be to experience it."
Leading hitter: Michael Massey, 2 1B, 3 RBIs
WP: Quinn Snarskis
SV: Riley Welch
Leading hitter: Robert Salazar, 2 1B, R
LP: Parker Schkade