FARMINGTON — When the final game of 2015 Connie Mack World Series ended, the East Cobb Yankees celebrated on top of home plate, Prairie Gravel looked on from its dugout in disbelief and the fans who remained in the stands of Ricketts Park at 1:07 a.m. Saturday sat in confusion.
The Yankees picked up the 7-5 win in a title game that ended because of a time limit, something rarely seen in baseball.
Game 22 of the tournament between Cincinnati's Midland Redskins and Chicago's Prairie Gravel began at 5:30 p.m. and ended at nearly 10:30 p.m. after a rain delay lasted two hours and 40 minutes. Prairie Gravel eventually won that game 13-7.
Because of the extended first game, a time limit was placed on the championship game to accommodate East Cobb's travel itinerary. The Yankees had to board a bus at 1:30 a.m. from Farmington to Albuquerque to catch an early morning flight and return home to Marietta, Ga.
Before the start of the championship game, coaches for both sides agreed that if the title game reached the fifth inning by 1 a.m., the team with the lead would be crowned champions at the end of the inning. If 1 a.m. rolled around before reaching the fifth inning, both teams would be declared co-champions.
The title game went into the fifth inning two minutes before the deadline after a strange series of events.
Holding a 7-2 lead in the bottom of the fourth, the Yankees began lazily swinging at anything near the strike zone in an effort to push the game into the fifth inning.
Emotions ran high, and coaches and players on both sides said they weren't pleased with the way the game ended.
"We're all very happy about the outcome, but the situation of the game wasn't what we were expecting," East Cobb's Carter Kieboom said. "With all the rain, then we were trying to quicken the game while they were trying to slow it down, it wasn't what we wanted."
Prairie Gravel coach Sam Sorce said the ending to the world series wasn't what the players and fans deserved.
"It was a travesty. With the time limit, it became a joke, and I wanted to stop it. It's a shame that it had to end that way," Sorce said. "It's a shame because it's been a phenomenal week for the players, the coaches, the fans — phenomenal. For it to get like that, the way it got, it's a travesty."
Ultimately, however, the Yankees were victorious.
"This was one of my favorite teams I've ever played on," Kieboom said. "We all get along, and every one of us has been here since day one. We're all good friends now, and it was a great year — a great run."
Prairie Gravel (27-7-2) had a chance to put up runs in the top of the second, loading the bases with one out after three walks from East Cobb pitcher Keyton Gibson. But Gibson got Prairie Gravel to pop up on the next two at-bats to get out of the jam unscathed.
The Yankees (54-5) got all seven of their runs in the bottom of the second, with Carter Hall getting things started with a two-RBI single.
Two batters later, Kieboom had a two-out RBI single, and another run came when a wild pitch scored Hall from third. Joey Bart kept things going in his second plate appearance of the inning, hitting a two-out, three-RBI triple to stretch the lead to 7-0.
"We were excited. We wanted to put a big inning up early if we could," East Cobb coach James Beavers said. "We knew it was going to be a short game, so we knew we needed to get ahead early and not take a chance with a one- or two-run game later on. Our guys wanted to be really aggressive and try to get as many runs as we could as soon as we could. It's kind of infectious when things get going. We were excited."
Jordan Muffley got Prairie Gravel on the board in the top of the fourth, recording a two-out RBI single to make it 7-1. In the next at-bat, Jake VanderWal drew a bases-loaded walk to push across another run, making it 7-2 heading to the bottom of the fourth, when tensions mounted.
The Yankees quickly gave up their three outs to send the game to the fifth just before the 1 a.m. deadline, and that's when Prairie Gravel made a final push.
Jeremy Eierman led off the inning with a double and later scored on an RBI groundout from Michael Massey.
After Jack Oremus drew a walk and Aaron Bond reached on an error, Cristian Sanchez drove them both home with a two-RBI single.
But that was the last of Prairie Gravel's run production.
"I think we lost focus a little bit because we were so focused on getting to the fifth inning," Beavers said. "It was an unusual circumstance, no doubt about it. We wanted to get to the fifth so there was a champion on the field, which is what I think people wanted to see."
The 2015 Connie Mack World Series title is the seventh in East Cobb's history. Beavers said this year's squad deserves the victory and the bragging rights that come with being national champions.
"It's a great group of guys. We've had a great year and only lost five games. But more so, they're just great kids," Beavers said. "They gave their summer to baseball every day. They're a great group of kids, and it's important to me that they get to walk away with this. They deserve it."
East Cobb Yankees
Leading batter: Joey Bart, 3B, 3RBIs
WP: Keyton Gibson
Leading batter: Cristian Sanchez, 1B, 2 RBIs
LP: Joey Cooner