FARMINGTON — A first-round matchup between two of the most decorated amateur baseball programs in the country did not disappoint tonight at Ricketts Park.
With one out in the bottom of the eighth inning, the Midland Redskins intentionally walked Colin Hall to send Xzavion Curry to the plate and set up a potential double play. But Curry never gave Midland the chance, taking the third pitch of the at-bat for a three-run homer over the left-field wall to walk off for a 6-3 extra-inning victory.
"When I saw them intentionally walking Colin, all I was thinking about was preparing to put the ball in play. 'Just get a hit or put the ball in play and maybe they’ll make an error,'" Curry said. "I wasn’t even thinking home run."
Not only did the blast give the Yankees a key first-round win, but it also set the tone for the rest of the Connie Mack World Series, while taking some of the pressure off the defending series champs.
"When you have 16 or 17 new guys who have never been in this environment before, I think the first game is always important to get a win," said East Cobb coach James Beavers. "Now they can take a little bit of a breath and say, 'Let’s just go play.'"
East Cobb, out of Marietta, Ga., wasted no time getting its offense rolling in the game. Tucker Maxwell led off the bottom of the first with a stand-up triple and then came in to score on a Kyle Jacobsen single to right field, making it 1-0.
Midland, which is based out of Cincinnati, threatened in the top of the third, getting runners on second and third with one out, but Curry, who was also East Cobb's starting pitcher, got out of the jam with a strikeout and ground-out.
Midland tied the game in the fourth with a Chase Murray line drive down the first-base line that allowed Austin McNicholas to fly around the bases and score from first. Midland went on to take a 3-1 lead in the inning after a Cal Conley ground ball got under the glove and rolled between the legs of East Cobb’s first baseman Michael Guldberg, allowing two runs.
East Cobb cut into Midland’s lead in the bottom of the fifth. With two outs and Curry on second, Guldberg singled to drive in Curry and make it 3-2.
The Yankees tied it in the bottom of the sixth. Jacobsen led off the inning with a double and came around to score on a Kyle McCann single. The score was tied throughout the seventh, forcing an extra inning to determine the winner.
In the top of the eighth inning, Midland went three up, three down, setting up Curry and the walk-off.
East Cobb will now move to Game 10 and face the Connecticut Bombers at 1 p.m. Monday at Ricketts Park.
Midland falls to the bottom of the bracket and will face Chicago’s Top Tier in an elimination game at 7:30 p.m. Sunday.
"We’ve been there before," Midland coach Dave Evans said. "We’ve lost the first game before and came back to win (the world series) a couple of times. It’s not easy, but if we win Sunday, we get a bye, and that puts us in the final six (teams). All we have to do is win one game."
Karl Schneider is the sports editor for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4648.
East Cobb Yankees
Leading hitters: Kyle Jacobsen, 2 for 4, RBI, R. Xzavion Curry, 1 for 3, HR, 3 RBIs, 2 R, BB
WP: Nick Wilhite
Leading hitters: Luke Waddell, 2 for 3, BB. Brock Mathis, 1 for 4, RBI
LP: Jake Ziegelmeyer