Colton Nighthawks saw their 9-4 lead in the sixth inning cut to 9-8 but managed to hold off D-BAT Elite 18U for the win
FARMINGTON — The Colton Nighthawks avoided a late-game collapse and staved off elimination from the Connie Mack World with a 9-8 win over D-BAT Elite 18U today at Ricketts Park.
The Nighthawks built a 9-4 lead going into the bottom of the sixth inning before D-BAT cut that down to 9-8.
"A rollercoaster hits it right on the button. I don’t care how it gets done, and a win is a win," said Nighthawks’ coach Ruben Montano. "We struggled at times and it’s a gelling process for these guys — they haven’t been together long. We had just enough to get through it."
The Nighthawks, out of Colton, Calif., responded in the top of the second. Jason Wallace doubled to deep center to drive in the first run of the inning. Then, in the next at-bat, Jonathan Longtin singled to shallow right to push in two more runs.
Cole McKissock and Patrick Keller singled in the next two at-bats, giving the Nighthawks (1-1) five consecutive batters with a hit. After Chris Moya drew a walk to load the bases, D-BAT pitcher Blair Henley got Zach Grande to ground to first base. But D-BAT’s Landon Gray couldn’t handle the hard-hit ball, and two runs scored on the error gave the Nighthawks a 5-3 advantage.
Colton tacked on one run in the top of the third when a pitch in the dirt bounced off the D-BAT catcher’s shoulder and got to the backstop, allowing Robbie Campillo to score from third.
The Nighhawks added to their lead in the top of the fourth inning with Moya, Zach Grande and Wallace each getting an RBI to extend the lead to 9-3.
Dallas-based D-BAT cut into the Nighthawks' lead in the fourth when a throwing error on a routine ground ball allowed Brian Klein to score from third, making it 9-4.
D-BAT got back in the game in the bottom of the sixth. After a double from Andrew Miller and a single from Anthony Bernardez, Matt Mueller took a pitch over the wall in right-center for a three-run home run to cut the deficit to 9-7. D-BAT added one more run on a squeeze bunt from Hunter Markwardt that scored Sammy Blair.
"They battled their butts off today, which is bittersweet because we didn’t win and the season’s over," said D-BAT coach Ryan Bonesio. "This is a great group of guys, and it’s really tough, but I’m proud of them and the way they fought back through adversity."
D-BAT had a chance to pull even in the final inning. After Colton stranded a runner on third in the top of the seventh, D-BAT entered the bottom of the inning needing one run to stay alive.
A single from Andrew Miller advanced him to second on a sac bunt. But Colton got Sammy Blair to fly out to right field to end the game and secure the win.
The loss ends D-BAT’s run at the tourney, but Bonesio said the experience his players gained at the world series will be helpful as they move on in their baseball careers.
"All of our guys are going to go play college baseball and playing in front of big crowds. Being able to get a taste of this will prepare them," Bonesio said. "This is a wonderful tournament to be a part of."
The Nighthawks advance to play the Southern California Renegades in Game 13 at 10 a.m. Tuesday at Ricketts Park.
"We want to build off the win. The hardest thing about this type of tournament is getting a win," Montano said. "This (win) relieved a lot of pressure, and I think now that we got that out of the way we can play a little more loose."
Karl Schneider is the sports editor for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4648.
Leading hitter: Jason Wallace, 1 for 3, 2 RBIs, 2B, BB, R
WP: Tyler Hansen
SV: Chris Rocco
D-BAT Elite 18U
Leading hitters: Matt Mueller, 1 for 2, HR, 3 RBIs. Hunter Markwardt, 2 for 3, 2 RBIs
LP: Blair Henley