BOONVILLE, Mo — The MABA 14-year-old all-stars continued to thrive in survival mode at the Midwest Plains Regional tournament on Sunday night.
MABA battled under intense pressure during the latter innings against the Iowa state champions, then rallied in the bottom of the ninth for a thrilling 4-3 victory on a walk-off single by Tanner Skaggs.
After dropping its first game of the tournament, MABA has reeled off three consecutive wins in the loser’s bracket to become one of the last three teams standing. The action continues today at 5 p.m. against Minnesota.
Iowa evened the score at 3-3 when pitcher Jack Verducci scored on a wild pitch. Tucker Tholen tried to score the go-ahead run from second base on an infield single, but was thrown out by first baseman Logan Bradley.
Pete Grindel relieved Zach Hibbits with a the bases loaded and a 2-0 count, but came through with a clutch strikeout to keep the game tied. Each team failed to score in the eighth after its lead-off batter reached base, but MABA converted its next scoring chance.
Preston Harlow hustled out an infield single to begin the frame, and stood at second with two out when a sinking liner from Skaggs fell safely away from a desperate dive in right field.
Harlow doubled in the third inning to finish 2-for-4, matching Hibbits and Bradley as the top hitters for MABA. Grindel allowed just one hit and struck out three over 3 1/3 innings of relief to post the win.
Iowa built a 2-0 lead behind Verducci with unearned tallies in the first and third innings, but MABA surged ahead with three runs in the fifth after wasting hits by Rusty Allgier and Luke Baker in the fourth.
Grindel scored on a throwing error before a wild pitch allowed Bradley to score the tying run. Hibbits added a key double during the rally, and gave MABA a 3-2 edge in strange fashion on a steal of home when a squeeze-bunt attempt was missed.
Hibbits walked three and fanned three over 5 2/3 innings, and Verducci pitched the maximum seven frames with five strikeouts, as neither started factored in the decision.
MABA 12, Kansas 5
BOONVILLE, Mo. — MABA erupted for nine runs over its final two innings at the plate on Sunday afternoon to avoid post-season elimination for the eight consecutive time with a 12-5 victory over Osawatomie, Kansas.
Pete Grindel finished 3-for-4 with two RBI singles and three runs scored, and Colby Yordy went 2-for-2 with two runs scored off the MABA bench, while Zach Hibbits added a double and three RBI.
Tanner Skaggs allowed two runs over six strong innings and struck out five for his second relief win of the tournament. He also helped the offense with two singles and two stolen bases. The MABA defense committed no errors.
MABA received nine total walks in the contest, but had two men picked off and stranded multiple runners in the first four frames before surging ahead in the fifth. A 5-3 deficit was quickly erased when Connor Eaton and Yordy scored on a Grindel RBI single that was booted in center field.
Hibbits followed a sacrifice from Logan Bradley with the go-ahead ground out, and Grindel scored on a wild pitch for a 7-5 advantage.
Luke Baker sparked a five-run outburst in the sixth with a lead-off single, and MABA executed two squeeze plays on bunt singles from Grindel and Bradley. Skaggs capped the scoring with a RBI single to center.
Kansas greeted starter Rusty Allgier with three runs in the top of the first inning, including a key two-run single by Jack Pursley.
MABA scored early against hurler Brant Johnson, who pitched four innings in a no-decision, when Grindel tripled and Hibbits singled. However, Johnson highlighted a 2-for-3 game and restored a three-run cushion with a solo home run in the third.
RBI hits from Yordy and Preston Harlow reduced the Kansas lead to 4-3 as five straight batters reached during the home half of the third. Seth Jones tripled home a potential insurance run in the fifth, but eventually took the loss in relief.
The MABA 13 and 15-year-old teams were eliminated in regional play on Sunday.