FARMINGTON — Strike Zone staved off elimination from the Connie Mack City Tournament with an 8-0 win over the Flat Bill Ducks tonight at Ricketts Park.
The loss was the first for the Ducks during the double-elimination tournament.
Lawrence Mayberry started on the mound for Strike Zone and dominated the competition. Through the first three innings, Mayberry allowed one base runner, who reached on a single to shallow center field, while striking out six of the 10 batters he faced.
Strike Zone coach Adam Morrissey said one of the keys to Mayberry’s success was his ability to throw the first pitch of an at-bat for a strike.
“He was working ahead (in the count) all night, which is a benefit when you’re pitching, and it helps the defense out,” Morrissey said. “He’s been our guy for three years. We wanted him on the mound tonight, and he did exactly what I thought he was going to do.”
Mayberry earned the win, giving up four hits and striking out seven in five innings.
Strike Zone got an offensive boost right away when Kelton McCoy hit a two-out, two-run home run over the left field wall during the first inning.
Strike Zone piled up runs in the second inning, sending nine batters to the plate and scoring four runs on five hits.
“Everyone did a great job tonight,” Morrissey said of Strike Zone’s approach at the plate. “They set a good tone from the beginning and were able to build off of that. It was a good job offensively.”
In the inning, Strike Zone got back-to-back-to-back runs batted in from Gavin Martin, Mayberry and Drew Gillespie to make it 5-0. Later in the inning, the club added one more run on an Andrew Laymon RBI.
Strike Zone added one run in the bottom of the fourth when McCoy notched his third RBI of the game on a single that scored Gillespie, making it 7-0.
The final run of the game came in the bottom of the fifth when Zac Van Duran scored on a passed ball.
Flat Bill’s coach Brett Alexander said Thursday night’s 13-inning, 2-1 win over the Rivercats may have had a lingering effect on the Ducks’ performance against Strike Zone.
“It’s a recipe for disaster when you run into a ball club as good as (Strike Zone), when they’re coming off of a day’s rest and we’re coming off of 13 innings and one of the Connie Mack City Tournament games of a lifetime,” Alexander said. “That’s not any excuse for tonight, but I think we were a little exhausted, and it showed because we came out flat.”
Strike Zone and the Ducks will play again at 5:30 p.m. Saturday at Ricketts Park. The winner will advance to the tournament final to face the 4-Corners ClubSox, who received a bye into the final, at 8 p.m.
“Now, it’s go time,” Alexander said. “We know going into (Saturday) that we’re going to have to win two games.”
Karl Schneider is the sports editor for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4648.