Young Fuel squad not backing down

Top-seeded Fuel off to 3-0 start at Connie Mack City Tourney

Matt Hollinshead
The Daily Times
The Fuel's Bobby Roberts makes contact at the plate against Strike Zone in Round 3 of the Connie Mack City Tournament Wednesday at Ricketts Park.

FARMINGTON — The Fuel baseball team may be younger than its adversaries, but it won’t back down from anyone.

Eleven of its players will only be high school juniors this fall, and the teams they’re facing at the Connie Mack City Tournament have finished their high school years and played some college ball.

And with a strong start to the week, the experience should pay off for players in the long run.

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“It shows how good they are and how good they’ve progressed throughout their baseball career, said Fuel shortstop Keaton Christy, a recent Farmington High graduate. "Playing against guys that are older than them and being able to win, it’s awesome,”

Perseverance has guided the top-seeded Fuel all week.

Whether they draw a walk or hit a grounder up the middle, the Fuel keep finding ways to get on base. They keep fighting to get that extra runner on, and they don’t get bent out of shape over a ground out.

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If they can’t get the quick put-out right away or if they miss easy fielding plays, they don’t get discouraged over it. They keep pushing forward in getting those first, second and third outs each inning.

“It’s fun to come up and give the older kids a run for their money, show them what we can do,” said Fuel catcher Joseph Mihelich, who provided the game-winning RBI in Tuesday's game against 4-C Gamboa.

The Fuel defeated Strike Zone 8-0 in the third round of the Connie Mack City Tournament Wednesday at Ricketts Park.

Mihelich also said the Fuel play aggressively on both offense and defense, “always putting up a battle.”

“Not giving up has taken us a long way. Showing fight has brought us a long way,” Mihelich said. “Seeing (opponents) not quit makes us want to play even harder.”

The Fuel entered the tournament as the No. 1 overall seed.

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It came away with a walk-off victory in Round 2 Tuesday against 4-C Gamboa, setting up a key third round battle with Strike Zone on Wednesday — resuming some gritty play on both ends of the diamond for an 8-0 win over Strike Zone.

Fuel coach Kim Carpenter said his squad was in the same position in 2016, having a young roster. Granted, that roster had numerous 15-year-olds. But the one thing both squads have in common is their no-quit mentality.

“They’re very capable, and I have the utmost confidence in them. We think there’s a lot of opportunity with this group,” Carpenter said. “They realize when they gain confidence just how potent they really are.”

Matt Hollinshead covers sports for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4577.