Jake Hannah of KCD Freedom slides in safely on double steal as throw gets past catcher.
By Sean Reilly
Rhett Lancaster knew what was at stake when he took the mound for the KCD Freedom on Sunday afternoon at Diamond Nation.
If he won the game, the Freedom’s third pool-play matchup at the 14U Summer Finale, it would finish unbeaten and advance to the playoffs. And having had an enjoyable season with his team, each chance to extend the campaign during its final event was well worth it.
“This is our last tournament of the summer,” the 5-1 right-hander from the Delaware squad said. “We’ve done pretty well, we’ve won a couple tournaments. I loved the chance to keep it going.”
Lancaster’s pitching, and his team’s timely hitting coupled with aggressiveness on the bases, enabled KCD Freedom to pile up runs in the late innings and gain a 17-4, six-inning decision in Flemington.
Despite the lopsided score, KCD Freedom actually trailed 2-0 after one inning before tying the game in the third. It then scored five times in the fourth and twice in the fifth before erupting for eight more in the sixth to command a 17-2 lead.
Lancaster went the distance, allowing six hits (four of them in the first inning) and two earned runs, with four strikeouts and one walk.
Colby Rall was 3-for-4 and also reached on an error for KCD Freedom, which got hits from 10 of the 11 players in its batting lineup. Kole Turner was 2-for-4 with an RBI single in the fifth, and a three-run inside-the park home run on a ball sliced down the right field for a 14-2 lead in the sixth.
The Sports Yard (1-2), from upstate New York, could have created a three-way tie in the four-team pool if it had won. It got off to a good start, getting one-out RBI singles from Billy Winchester and Mason Briggs in the bottom of the first for a 2-0 lead.
KCD Freedom tied it in the third. Jake Hannah scored from third on an errant throw as part of a first-and-third double steal play, and Billy Harvey hit a sacrifice fly.
KCD Freedom broke things open with its five-run fourth, which featured an RBI single from Rall, a two-run single by Lancaster, a run-scoring fielder’s choice from Hannah and an RBI groundout from Connor Heritage.
KCD Freedom then sent 13 batters to the plate while scoring eight runs in the sixth. Preston Lyon hit a two-run double, Turner hit his three-run inside-the park homer, Jeremy Drago had a RBI ground out, Lancaster (2-for-3) singled in a run and another scored on a wild pitch.
“I pitched to hit and my defense did the rest of the work,” Lancaster said. “My fastball helped a lot and my location felt great. The hitting job on the offensive side was great, especially at the end.”
The Sports Yard got a run-scoring ground out from Matt Hudson and an RBI double from Winchester (2-for-3) in the bottom of the sixth.
KCD Freedom’s championship hopes ended later in the afternoon with a 5-4 loss to the Vaughan Vikings in the White Bracket semifinals. The Vikings then fell to the Crusaders Baseball Club, 7-1, in the championship game.