Fuel slide past Dirtbags, advance at City Tourney
ClubSox-Strike Zone game postponed by bad weather
FARMINGTON — Both the Fuel and the Dirtbags had their bright moments on offense, but the Fuel prolonged its momentum tonight en route to a 12-4, five-inning mercy-rule win at Ricketts Park to advance in the Connie Mack City Tournament.
“It feels great. It’s a dream come true,” Fuel pitcher Bradden Kennard said.
The Dirtbags had the upper hand in the third inning, up 4-1, with some hard-hit liners while using speed to advance baserunners.
Kennard turned the tables shortly after. In that same inning, he hit a two-run triple over the head of Dirtbags center fielder Vegas Vondra. Kennard later scored the tying run off a wild pitch.
The Dirtbags’ initial scoring barrage was short lived, as they hit numerous ground outs and fly outs the rest of the night.
There was very little they could do for starter Emilio Prado, who started getting tired in the third inning and was pulled after 3 2/3 innings of work and 96 total pitches.
“We tried getting everyone back up, but the attitude just dropped. (Our energy) was drained. We don’t know what happened,” said Dirtbags' catcher Mateo Ferrer.
Meanwhile, the Fuel’s hitters were far from done.
They continued setting up scoring chances with some choppy blooper hits and good baserunning and driving in runs with some nice shots up the middle.
“It feels awesome when everyone starts feeding off of each other and just rolling through it, no stopping,” said Kennard, who tried making contact on first-pitch strikes. “Any time we can, we’ve got to take the opportunity to move guys over and get them in.”
The Fuel led 11-4 when Keaton Christy ended the game by stealing home.
Kennard was three for three at the plate with five RBIs, scoring two runs and stealing one base. Fuel second baseman Danny Carpenter and catcher Cade Acrey each had an RBI and hit a combined four for five.
Dirtbags second baseman Jacob Darwin was one for three with a two-run triple, while Ferrer was one for two with an RBI single.
The Fuel will face either the ClubSox or Strike Zone in the sixth round of the tourney Saturday at Ricketts Park. The ClubSox-Strike Zone game was postponed after a long lightning and rain delay. A time for the game was not immediately announced.
If the ClubSox beat Strike Zone, the Fuel will play the ClubSox for the title and rights to host the 2017 Connie Mack World Series. If Strike Zone wins, the Fuel and Strike Zone will flip a coin for which team earns a bye into the final while the other plays the ClubSox. The ClubSox already received a bye in the tourney.
Matt Hollinshead covers sports for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4577.