U-12 Rattlers run away with NYBC title
Texas squad dominates opponents to win championship
It was a dominating day for Team Rattlers at Mark Neel Field in Memphis, Tenn., as the team from Spring, Texas, showcased a quick-strike offense, sparkling defense and a stellar effort from pitcher Luken Baker.
Add it all up and you get a championship at the U-12 Division title game at the National Youth Baseball Championships for the Rattlers.
After a 10-0 shutout of Bullets Baseball Gold in the morning semifinal, the Rattlers scored 15 times in the final two innings to pull away from Florida's Forest Hills All-Stars, 18-6, in the championship game.
The Rattlers led 3-0 heading to the fifth when Ryan Johnson launched a two-run home run off the scoreboard in right field. The Rattlers had pushed the lead to 10-0 with the help of five walks, a hit-by-pitch and an error from Forest Hills when Chris Andritsos capped the inning with a three-run double to left.
Trailing 13-0 and lacking a hit heading to the bottom of the fifth, the Stars needed four runs to prolong the game. They did one better than that, scoring five times on four hits to send the game to the sixth inning.
The Rattlers reestablished their 13-run advantage, though, on a KeBryan Hayes triple and a two-out, opposite-field grand slam by Jerry Murillo. Murillo, nicknamed "El Diablo," finished the night 3-for-3 with a walk, a hit-by- pitch and five RBIs.
The Rattlers didn't waste much time getting on the scoreboard early, striking for three runs before making an out. Teddy Hoffman led off the game with an opposite-field line-drive single. Johnson followed with an infield single before Murillo grounded one up the middle to drive home Hoffman. After a wild pitch, Andritsos lined an RBI double into right field that was nearly snared on a dive by Brandt Burrows.
Josh Russo replaced starter Jonathan Diaz on the mound and limited the damage, cutting down Andritsos at the plate on a potential wild pitch. Russo cruised until running into trouble in the fifth.
Baker was working on a no-hitter and had faced the minimum 12 hitters through four innings. A Jason Heinrich single to lead off the fifth ended the no-hitter and sparked the five-run frame for Forest Hills. Baker finished the day allowing those five runs on four hits in five innings. Andritsos and Johnson closed the game for the Rattlers.
Team Rattlers (TX) 10, Bullets Baseball Gold (FL) 0: Hunter Lynam allowed only one hit in 4 1/3 innings while striking out seven as the Rattlers shut out the Bullets, 10-0, to advance to the championship game.
The Rattlers scored once in the second, four times in the third and five times in the fifth to put the game away. KeBryan Hayes and Ryan Johnson hit back-to-back two-run singles in the fifth to push the Rattlers' advantage to double-digits in the fifth and invoke the mercy rule.
Forest Hills All-Stars (FL) 5, Puerto Rico Vaqueros 4: Kyle Tucker's RBI single in the bottom of the fifth scored pinch-runner Darren Gooden with the go-ahead run to back a 12-strikeout effort from starting pitcher Jason Heinrich.
Both teams scored twice each in the first and second innings, but Heinrich and the Vaqueros' Alan Carrasquillo settled down in the middle innings.
Heinrich led off the bottom of the fifth with a single, however, and the pinch-runner Gooden stole second and scored the eventual winning run on Tucker's single.
Tim Britton is a reporter for MLB.com This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.