Panthers open Connie Mack World Series with victory

Steven Bortstein
Farmington Daily Times

FARMINGTON − The 505 Panthers scored an opening round win in championship bracket play of the Connie Mack World Series, slipping past the Albuquerque Baseball Academy 7-5 in an eight-inning clash Monday night at Ricketts Park.

The victory sends the Panthers into the second round, and a Tuesday night matchup at Ricketts Park where they will face the Southern California Renegades. Game time for the Panthers vs. Renegades is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.

Pitcher Taylon Laxson picked up the win for the Panthers. Laxson, who went 3 2/3 innings, closed out the game striking out a pair of batters in the bottom of the eighth inning to help preserve the win. Laxson struck out four batters while allowing only one run on three hits in the outing.

"Just to play in front of this crowd was awesome, the way the fans got us pumped tonight was amazing," Laxson said.

The Panthers, who trailed 3-1 heading into the top half of the sixth inning, came back to grab the lead after getting to ABA starting pitcher Jesse Drake. Panthers Josh Wulfert opened the inning with a single, and later scored after Drake was called for a balk. Meantime, Jacob Kuhn reached base on a throwing error from ABA shortstop Akili Carris. Kuhn would later score thanks to an RBI single off the bat of Kendrick Aragon to give the Panthers a 4-3 lead heading into the bottom of the sixth inning.

ABA fought back to tie the game, thanks to an RBI single from Ty Mancha, which allowed Jordan Martinez to score. Neither team could put a run across in the seventh inning, sending the contest into extra innings, which according to American Amateur Baseball Congress rules, each team starts their respective half-inning with a runner at second base.

Kuhn, who started the top of the eighth inning on second, would help the Panthers take advantage of that rule, loading the bases after leadoff batter Bryant Elliott was hit by a pitch followed by a single by Aragon. Bejar was walked with the bases loaded, scoring Kuhn and giving the Panthers the lead.

Aragon scored next from third base off a passed ball from ABA pitcher Mack Mabrey. The Panthers padded to their extra inning lead when Bejar crossed the plate after a throwing error by catcher Ty Mancha.

505 Panthers' Jacob Ramsted gets hit on the helmet by a high pitch in the top of the sixth inning against Albuquerque Baseball Academy during Game 4 bracket play at Ricketts Park on Monday, July 25, 2022.

That three-run cushion proved to be more than enough for Laxson, who shut the door on the ABA by getting Carris to fly out to right fielder Akili Carris popped out to Dax Vigil in right field.

The loss drops the ABA into the consolation bracket and a game against the Colton Nighthawks, set for Tuesday at 1 p.m. at the Sports Complex.

In other action during the opening day of bracket competition:

Midland 8, UBC National 0

Jake Daltrui and Isaac Wachsmann each hit a home run as Midland advanced to the second round of the championship bracket with an 8-0 shutout victory in six innings over Dallas-based UBC National.

The game was scoreless to the bottom of the third inning when Phoenix Meza drove in Miguel Hugas with a single.

In the fourth inning, Midland added to their lead Daltrui went deep, driving in Riley Nelson. Hugas and Meza teamed up again in the fifth inning, when Hugas scored on a Meza fielder's choice to the third baseman.

Wachsmann's 3-run blast was the knockout punch for Midland, when he drove in Nelson and Daltrui in the sixth inning to earn the run-rule decision.

Midland pitcher Devin Bennett threw a complete game, striking out seven while allowing only two hits and three walks on the night.

Southern California Renegades' Myles Patton throws a pitch at a Colton Nighthawks batter in the bottom of the third inning during Monday's opening round game at Ricketts Park on Monday, July 25, 2022.

The Midland victory sets up a second round championship bracket contest Tuesday at 5:15 p.m. at Ricketts Park against the Florida Legends, who defeated Elite Squad Gulf South earlier in the day on Monday.

Legends earn hard-fought decision over Elite Squad

Pitcher Braxton Shelton struck out seven batters, including four of the last six he faced as the Florida Legends held off the Elite Squad Gulf South team for an 8-6 win Monday at Ricketts Park.

Shelton, who threw 2 2/3 innings in relief of Derek Rodriguez, shut the door on the Elite Squad after they came back from a 7-3 deficit thanks to Brandon Kuriger, who picked up his third RBI when he singled home Kade Pearl.

Dom Archila and Colin Dupre then loaded the bases and forced the exit of Horacio Cruz, who was replaced on the mound by Rodriguez. The first thing he did was throw a wild pitch, scoring Archila and making it a one-run game.

Shelton came into the game at that point and prevented any further damage. The Legends padded to their lead when Eddie-Bow Rodriguez made a great play for the plate, scoring off a sac fly to right off the bat of Cameron King.

Both teams combined to use seven pitchers in the game, allowing nearly a dozen walks before the Legends moved on to the second round.  

"In a perfect world, we'd have loved to use just one or two guys on the mound," said Legends coach Carlos Marti. "But I learned here a long time ago, there's no such thing as an ugly win. If we can get five more wins like that, I'll take it."

The Legends will face Midland Tuesday at 5:15 p.m. at Ricketts Park in the second round of championship bracket play

The Elite Squad will hope to avoid elimination Tuesday at 10 a.m. at Ricketts Park when they face UBC National.

Tigers, Elite Squad first to be eliminated from CMWS

The Dallas Tigers became the first team to be officially eliminated from the Connie Mack World Series, as they lost their consolation bracket game Tuesday at the Sports Complex by a final score of 9-3 to the Dulin Dodgers.

The Tigers, who finished pool play last weekend with a record of 1-2, lost their opening round game to the Texas Stix by a final of 4-1 on Sunday at Rickett's Park.

For the Dodgers, the win avenges an earlier loss to the Tigers in pool play action. The Dodgers will face elimination again on Wednesday at 10 a.m. at Ricketts Park when they meet the winner of another consolation bracket game between the Colton Nighthawks and the Albuquerque Baseball Academy.

The Dodgers jumped out to a 5-0 lead through two innings against the Tigers, and were led offensively by Lane Allen, who homered in the first inning and finished the game with 4 RBI. Dakota Howard also drove in a pair of runs, while starting pitcher Carson Priebe threw six innings and allowed only three runs on four hits for the win.

Meantime, the Elite Squad Gulf South team also saw their tournament run come to an end Monday, losing their elimination game against UBC National by a final of 15-7.

The UBC National team was led offensively by Van Klein, who drove in a pair of runs and Jett Johnston, who also drove in a pair of runs during a 6-run third inning that broke the contest wide open. Lathan Van Ausdall scored three runs in the victory, which moves the UBC National team into Wednesday's third round and a game against the loser of Tuesday's game between the Texas Stix and D-Bat United.

The Elite Squad, which went 2-1 last weekend in pool play action, lost their opening round game on Monday to the Florida Legends by a final of 8-6.