Heavy rain forced play to be suspended in the championship game of the Connie Mack World Series and the East Cobb Yankees and Dallas Tigers will share the tournament title
FARMINGTON — The Connie Mack World Series has co-champions for the first time in the tournament's history.
The Dallas Tigers (3-1-1) and East Cobb Yankees (4-1-1) battled back and forth Friday night while rain poured down at Ricketts Park until play was suspended with the game tied 4-4 in the top of the fourth inning.
About an hour and a half into the delay, the American Amateur Baseball Congress, the governing body of the world series, ruled the game would not resume, and the two teams would be this year’s co-champions.
Dallas coach Kyle Woods and East Cobb coach James Beavers said that while it wasn’t the finish either team had hoped for, it was in the best interest of the players’ safety not to return to the soaked field.
“It wasn’t necessarily my decision, but it was the right decision,” Woods said. “There are too many prospects on the field and too many guys who have a big future ahead of them, and one game wasn’t worth it. The field was sloppy, and it was getting to the point where it was dangerous for them.”
Rain fell in the first inning and picked up in intensity as the game continued. Both coaches said they were surprised players were allowed on the field for as long as they were.
East Cobb center fielder Kyle Jacobsen said the shortened game with a verdict of co-champions is still a worthy accomplishment, but not exactly what the Yankees wanted.
“We didn’t complete exactly what we wanted, but it still feels good,” Jacobsen said. “We came out here wanting to win the whole thing, and being co-champions is still special, but we’ll come back here next year with a chip on our shoulder.”
This wasn't the first time the Connie Mack World Series champion was crowned in an unorthodox fashion.
East Cobb also won last year's title unconventionally. Continuous rain pushed the final game's start time back to 11:30 p.m., and subsequently, the AABC set a 1 a.m. cutoff for the game. The Yankees were leading Chicago’s Prairie Gravel 7-5 when that time was reached to win the championship.
In Friday's game, Dallas scored first, getting a run on an East Cobb error. On the play, Zach DeLoach grounded to first base. East Cobb’s Michael Guldberg fielded the ball and tossed to pitcher Xzavion Curry, who was covering the bag, for the out. Jacob Martinez, who was on second, rounded third and got caught between third and home. After a brief hesitation, Martinez made his move to home, but Curry’s throw to home sailed over the catcher's mitt, scoring Martinez score with ease.
The Yankees, out of Marietta, Ga., responded in the bottom of the inning. Guldberg led off the inning with a single, then came in to score when Tucker Maxwell tripled to deep center. On the next at-bat, Devin Warner hit a bloop single to shallow right field to drive in Maxwell and give East Cobb a 2-1 lead.
Kyle McCann kept the inning going for the Yankees, belting a two-out, two-run home run to center field to extend the lead to 4-1.
Dallas got right back in the game in the top of the fourth. After the Tigers worked the bases loaded with no outs in the inning, Jaxx Groshans ripped a fastball on a 3-2 count to left center field for a bases-clearing double, evening the score at 4-4.
“They never thought they were done. They knew there was a lot of baseball left,” Woods said. “The inning started off with a hit by pitch, and that’s what we need — just a little spark. Then we got the bases-clearing double to tie it up.”
After Groshans advanced to third base on a Dylan Ditzenberger ground out, Martinez drew a walk to put runners on the corners with two outs when play was stopped for the rain delay.
This year's co-championship is East Cobb’s second straight title at the world series and its third in four years. This season also marked a personal milestone for Beavers, who was inducted into the Connie Mack World Series Hall of Fame in the opening ceremonies on July 29.
“To see my name hanging up there with Barry Larkin and all those guys, it’s an honor,” Beavers said. “Baseball has been really good to me since I quit playing. I’m so glad my team was here. That was our goal from the beginning, to all be here together. It’s been a good week.”
Woods said the experience over the last week — both on and off the field — will motivate his players to return to Farmington in the future to vie for the title.
“It was nothing short of what we expected with the fans and the support the town gives. It’s amazing,” Woods said. “We’ll definitely be back.”
Karl Schneider is the sports editor for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4648.
Leading hitter: Jaxx Groshans, 1 for 2, 3 RBIs
East Cobb Yankees
Leading hitter: Kyle McCann, 1 for 2, HR, 2 RBIs