Baird Brothers holds off Astros for 18-U division title

Baird holds off Astro for 18-U division title

By DAN HINER

sports@vindy.com

STRUTHERS

With two outs and Astro Falcons on first and second, a routine ground ball looked to be an easy forceout at first base. But the throw short-hopped Baird Brothers first baseman Zach Mancz and the runner reached base.

But when the runner at second rounded third, he got caught between third and home plate.

As he ran toward home Manz fired to Baird Brothers’ catcher Coleman Stauffer, who applied the tag. That out clinched a 1-0 win in a decisive Game 5 of the 18-U Class B championship series.

The Astro Falcons and Baird Brothers played Games 4 and 5 of the Class B championship on Monday night.

The Falcons won Game 4 7-0 due to a complete-game shutout from Dylan Rotz and a three-RBI performance by Astro outfielder Matt Wood.

Wood drove in the first two runs of the game on a RBI single to left field in the top of the first inning.

Wood drove in his third run of the game on a sacrifice fly in the third inning to make the score 4-0.

Rotz allowed three hits, one walk and struck out six.

But the Falcons’ offense didn’t carry over to Game 5. The Falcons were hitless for the first four innings and didn’t reach base until a leadoff single by Noah Laster in the fifth.

Baird Brothers pitcher Travis Perry threw a two-hitter in the final game of the series. He struck out 11 and allowed two hits and a walk.

“It was a well-played 1-0 ball game. Those were only two infield hits that we got off [Perry],” Astro Falcons manager Andy Timko said.

Perry said he knew he needed to stay calm throughout the game to maintain the lead. The Falcons had opportunities to score in the sixth and seventh innings but were unable to get key hits.

Rotz started Game 5 for the Falcons because the team needed to buy time for pitcher Joe Rock to warm up.

Rock entered with two outs in the top of the first and pitched the rest of the game. He allowed one run on eight hits and one walk. Rock also struck out 11.

The only run of the final game was driven in by Stauffer on a one-out single in the top of the second. Jimmy Nixon came across to score as Baird Brothers grabbed the early lead.

“That was a huge boost because in the past two games they went up 2-0 in the first inning and we lost,” Stauffer said. “Getting the first run put the pressure on them. That was huge.”

The Falcons and Baird Brothers will play in the NABF World Series. The tournament will start Thursday.

Baird Brothers manager Don Pletcher said the team is preparing for another game against the Falcons and the win on Monday will help with their confidence moving forward.

“We have the World Series [this weekend]. I expect us to do the same thing, carry on,” Pletcher said. “Tonight was a big one, the kids love this thing, but all year long they wanted the World Series. We won the World Series in 2014.

“We went last year, but it didn’t end so well. We got to the playoffs, but we want to win it. We know we got the Astros there. It is what it is. We’ll probably get them in the finals again.”

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