MARIETTA, Ga. – It was a day full of emotions for the Austin Banditos, who came into Day 6 of the 2013 15u WWBA National Championship desperate for a bit of luck and good play on the field. With their backs to the wall, the Banditos hacked and hurled their way into the Round of 16 tomorrow.
“We had to have a couple teams lose and, to be honest, we had some bad luck,” said head coach Josh Ford. “We hit a lot of balls hard this week and not many of them fell, so it was great to get some luck on our side.”
“It was great to see that the baseball gods were truly looking out for us today,” said catcher Kragen Kechely.
After starting their morning off with a 3-0 win, all they could do was wait and see if luck was on their side today. “We needed the Black Mambas (Black Mamba Baseball Club) and the Fury (Fury Legion 15u) to lose,” said pitcher Ryland Cox. “Me and two of my friends were at Subway watching Gamechanger the whole time they were playing.”
Luck was with the Banditos today. Black Mamba Baseball Club and Fury Legion 15u both fell 2-1 in their final pool play matchups, giving the Banditos a spot in the Round of 24.
Austin met the Evoshield Canes Central 15u later in the day in a playoff game that had everyone on edge for seven innings.
Ryland Cox pitched six spectacular innings, giving up only one hit, which didn’t come until the bottom of the fifth. Cox considered his performance far from spectacular, and he’s probably the only one who thought so.
“I think I should have done better,” he said. “I told my friend I’m gonna throw a no-no.”
Well, one hit is as close as they come from throwing a no-hitter, and his teammates and coaches were very appreciative of Cox’s efforts.
“I can’t say enough about Ryland,” said Ford. “He threw a great game.”
“Ryland pounded the zone most of the game and got tons of ground balls and we played really good defense behind him,” Cox’s battery mate, Kechely, said.
The bats finally came alive in the top of the fourth inning when Chase Basham hit an RBI double to right field to plate the first run of the ball game. Later in the inning, Kechely hit a double that one-hopped off the left field fence to drive in the final run of the game.
“It was probably the farthest ball I’ve ever hit in my life, so it was pretty awesome,” Kechely said. “I got a fastball right down the middle and didn’t miss it.”
The Austin Banditos run into one of the best travel teams in the country tomorrow, the East Cobb Astros 15u. The Banditos hope to have the baseball gods in their dugout again tomorrow.
“I think we have enough pitching to do it,” Cox said about a tournament run. “I think we need to liven up our bats a little more to keep going.”
“We’ve played really great baseball,” Ford said. “We’ve done a lot of the little things right.”
It’s the little things that will make the biggest difference when playing a team as fundamentally sound as the East Cobb Astros 15u team, but don’t count out the underdogs.
The Banditos have become accustomed to fighting out of corners in this tournament and will come out confident they can take down Goliath.