It was the perfect combination for the Jr. Patriots of Central Florida - the intimate confines of ECB Field #5 and accurately slow pitching - that led to the demise of the streaking Braves at ECB this evening in the Perfect Game - World Wood Bat Association 2013 Grads National Championship. After posting two wins in our earlier pool games, the Braves looked to secure a top seed in the championship brackets play that is slated to begin on Sunday morning. But, despite out-hitting the Jr. Pats 7-4, we only managed a single run while giving up 2 earned and 1 unearned runs to go down by the score of 3-1. The loss left the Braves scratching for the 16th seed which we won by virtue of our 10 runs allowed and 19 runs scored in the tournament's three pool games.
Offensively, the Braves stroked 4 hits in the top of the first inning and appeared to be dialed-in to the Jr. Pats' slow pitching. However, those hits only generated our first and only run as our normally aggressive base running was shut down by Field #5's intimate confines. To get the Braves started, #33 Stephen Wrenn whacked a DOUBLE to the right field corner on our second at-bat of the game. Wrenn was moved to third base on a single up the middle by #10 John Davis and then scored on an RBI-Fielder's Choice hit to the right side by #2 Sam Ayers. #22 Jon Jon Banks and #8 Patrick Schultz then added singles though the middle to load the bases, but all three baserunners were left stranded as the Jr. Pats worked their way out of an early jam. Across the next three innings, the Braves brought 4 hitters to the plate in each inning but only managed 1 hit per inning, all singles off the bats of #5 Hunter Swilling in the second, #10 John Davis in the third, and #8 Patrick Schultz in the fourth. We then fell in order in the fifth, sixth, and seventh innings on 4 fly outs and 5 infield ground outs to end the game.
Defensively, #5 Hunter Swilling got his third start of the season and pitched through 3 full innings, giving up 2 earned runs on 2 hits and 5 walks with 2 strike outs. Swilling gave way to #21 Brian Kehner in the fourth, and Kehner shut down the Jr. Pats offense across the final three innings, giving up 0 runs on 2 hits and 0 walks with 2 strike outs. The Braves defense only committed one error in the game, but that error led to the Jr. Pats' unearned insurance run in the bottom of the fourth inning.
With a 2-1 pool record, the Braves enter the championship brackets on Sunday as the #16 seed and will face the #1 seed West Florida Panthers on ECB's Showcase Field.