Enid Majors claim first Connie Mack World Series title, defeat D-Bat United 4-1
Catcher Ian Daugherty was named MVP of the tournament with a .500 batting average along with 14 RBI and 10 runs scored.
FARMINGTON — The Enid Majors, making their debut in the Connie Mack World Series, sure looked like they'd been here before.
Using a healthy mix of timely hitting, strong pitching, aggressive baserunning and a touch of luck from time to time, the Majors stormed through the tournament, ending a perfect season with a 4-1 triumph over Dallas' D-Bat United Saturday night to claim the CMWS championship in front of more than 6,500 fans at Ricketts Park.
The victory, which took some time to complete after a nearly one-hour rain delay paused the game after the first inning was completed, was well worth the wait.
"Such a great moment for these kids, and everyone here and back home who supported us," said a relieved head coach Kris Webb after the game.
Rain delays in a baseball game are infrequent, but they can play havoc with players and coaches, particularly when they come in the early innings.
Starting pitchers, who sometimes find themselves just into the heat of the moment, suddenly have to stop what they're doing and wait for storm clouds to disappear.
Such was the case Saturday night, when Majors starter Kaleb Melvin got through a shaky first inning, then had to convince Webb he was ready to get back at it one action was allowed to resume with the Majors trailing D-Bat United 1-0.
The decision to let Melvin back onto the mound paid off. Melvin dominated the next three innings he pitched, the Majors fought back to get the lead and eventually pulled clear in the final inning, giving the Majors their first CMWS title in program history.
In the process, The Majors culminated the perfect season, in which they went undefeated in 36 games, with a 7-0 run in the Connie Mack World Series, in which they outscored their opponents in their final five games of the tournament by a combined margin of 45-5.
But the hitting was just one side of the story. In the last three games of the tournament, the Majors pitching staff allowed just six hits over the course of 18 innings.
Melvin capped it off with a marvelous performance on Saturday night, going 4 innings and leading a trio of pitchers through a 7-inning no-hitter to complete the perfect season.
"I just can't say enough about the job these kids did this week," Webb said about his pitching staff. "When (Melvin) came to me during the delay and said he wanted to get back out there, I handed him the ball and he delivered."
Melvin might actually have welcomed the rain delay after giving up a run in the bottom of the first inning. Needing just one out to sail through the opening frame, Melvin gave up back-to-back walks to Tavion Vaughns and Hunter Autrey, followed by a hit batter in Gavin Glasgow which loaded the bases.
Melvin then turned around and walked Ian Collier, scoring Vaughns before Melvin would get out of the jam when Jason Hawkins grounded out to shortstop Cayden Brumbaugh.
Almost immediately, the game was delayed due to rain and lightning.
One hour later, and with the lightning no longer a threat and only a light, short rainstorm to follow, the game was back on and it was Enid's turn to shine.
After a scoreless second inning, the Majors tied the game when Zandt Payne homered to left field off D-Bat starting pitcher Ben Abeldt, who also came back to the mound after the rain delay.
D-Bat coach Ryan Bonesio had no issues in making that decision after Abeldt threw a flawless opening frame, striking out a pair of Majors hitters.
"He had a real low pitch count so we weren't concerned at all about him coming back out there," Bonesio said after the loss.
With the score tied at one heading to the top of the fourth inning, Enid would take the lead for the first time when Brumbaugh led off the frame with a solo home run to left field. Abeldt struck out the next two batters before the defense got itself out of a jam.
Ty Hammack reached second base after a throwing error by shortstop Hudson White sailed into the dugout. Hammack advanced to third on a failed pickoff attempt, then Will Edmunson walked.
The Majors, who have been aggressive in these situations throughout the tournament, got caught when Abeldt attempted to pick Edmunson off first. Hammack jolted from third but was gunned down when Autrey made the perfect throw to the plate, with Hawkins making the tag on Hammack and preventing any further damage.
In fact, the Majors best offensive displays during much of this series, which had come from their aggressive baserunning tactics, was taken away on multiple occasions during the championship game, as they were caught stealing four times in the contest.
"We knew that this was one of their best weapons," Bonesio said after the game. "So we knew what to look for and it worked out well for us to keep us in the game."
Melvin's night was done entering the fifth inning, as he was replaced by Blake Priest. Melvin struck out 4 and walked four but kept the D-Bat team from creating any further distractions, thanks to relatively short innings and reliable help from his defense.
"Our guys stepped up for (Melvin) behind him in the field," Webb said after the game.
With Enid leading 2-1 going to the bottom of the sixth, Priest found himself in a bit of a jam with only one out. After walking Autrey and falling behind 2-0 on the count to Glasgow, catcher Ian Daugherty called timeout and joined Webb on the mound to get Priest back on his game.
"He kind of joked with me a bit and made sure I was alright," Priest said afterwards of coach Webb. "I needed that for a minute to get back in the game."
Priest found his rhythm and eventually got Glasgow to strike out swinging, then did the same to Collier to end the momentary threat.
"It's just calming a moment. Sometimes it gets really fast and you have to come in and settle him down," Webb said of that mound visit. "We just had to go out there and let him know it was alright."
The Majors pulled clear in the top half of the seventh inning when Zandt Payne scored from first on a one-out triple off the bat of Kade Goeke. That third run was followed by Goeke scoring on a Bryce Logan ground ball to second baseman Connor McGinnis to provide a little breathing room heading into the bottom of the seventh and the pivotal final three outs.
"The last two runs allowed me to breathe a little," Webb said after the game. (Goeke) will be the first to tell you, he'd struggled a little bit the last couple days, but then he comes up with probably the biggest hit of the year for us."
Will Farr came in to relieve Priest for the Majors, getting Hawkins to strike out before Whit Thoms grounded out to second and Zach Hudspeth grounded out to the shortstop as the celebration erupted from the first base dugout.
Webb admitted after the game and team celebrations that the feeling was more relief that the experience ended with a celebration.
"It's a little overwhelming, it's a feeling of it's glad to be over," Webb said. 'The monkey is off our backs and we can breathe."
For Bonesio and the D-Bat United squad, too many chances unfulfilled were costly in terms of the end result.
"Really proud of these kids, and they gave a great effort, but you got to get hits and when you don't, that makes matters pretty tough."
In addition to the Majors winning the CMWS title, Daugherty was named the Most Valuable Player of the tournament.
With a .500 batting average in the eight games of the tournament, along with 14 RBIs, 10 runs scored and a walkoff home run on Friday night to cap a 9-0 win over the Colton Nighthawks in the semifinals, Daugherty was one of the main anchors of this team's success.
Steve Bortstein can be reached via email at SBortstein@Gannett.com, via Twitter @DTSBortstein or on the phone at (505) 635-2680