The 53rd annual Connie Mack World Series will welcome a record 17 teams to compete in the nine-day tournament in venues across the city, including Ricketts Park. Aaron Bedoya / USA Today Network
FARMINGTON — A day off didn't slow down the Danville Hoots.
After cruising to wins in their first two games of bracket play, beating D-BAT Elite 9-1 and thumping the East Cobb Yankees 15-2, the Hoots kept rolling with a 10-5 win over the Florida Legends tonight at Ricketts Park.
"The Florida Legends are a good club. I love those guys. They’ve got a lot of talent," Hoots coach Don Johns said. "As a college coach or a scout, looking at (the Legends), there are some guys who can go to the next level and play. I think that's a great win for us."
Entering the game, the Hoots owned a ridiculous team batting average of .454 after going a combined 25 for 55 in their first two games of bracket play. They also posted an on base percentage of .557 and a slugging percentage of .636. And the offense didn't slow down too much against the Legends, racking up 10 hits while drawing eight walks.
The only downside to the Hoots' win was that they left the bases loaded in the third, fourth and sixth innings.
Florida starting pitcher YanKrlos Lleras was great through the first two innings, striking out four of the seven batters he faced. But in the third, he lost his command. With two on and two out, Lleras walked three straight batters. One walk drove in a run, and another run came in on a wild pitch to give Danville a 2-0 lead.
"He had trouble with his command after the second inning, and he couldn't find it, and it's a shame," Florida coach Carlos Marti said. "We were talking earlier that none of our pitchers had thrown a gem out here, and after the first two innings, we all looked at each other like, 'Oh, this is the one.' But he's a competitor and worked hard out there."
Lleras drew praise from Johns, who called him a special talent and said the focus of the Hoots in the early innings was to raise Lleras' pitch count to get him off the field.
The Legends answered in the bottom of the frame, getting RBIs from Freddy Zamora and Gabriel Rodriguez.
But Danville retook the lead for good in the fourth, adding two more runs, then getting six in the fifth to blow the game open.
The Legends put together a bit of a rally in the bottom of the fifth, taking advantage of Danville errors and two hit batters to score three runs.
Freddy Zamora led the Legends with a single, a double, a walk and two RBIs.
Brett Tressen finished the night with two RBIs for the Hoots.
The loss eliminates the Legends while the Hoots will face the Midland Redskins at 5:15 p.m. Saturday at Ricketts Park.
Karl Schneider is the sports editor for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4648.