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Babe Ruth World Series: Day 5 Recap

By Jason Van Arkel, August 16, 2016

The final day of pool play at the 13-year-old Babe Ruth World Series saw both the finale for the host team from Ottumwa, and some late-inning drama as the seedings were set for the playoff bracket. The stage is now set for single elimination play, which begins on Tuesday.

AMERICAN DIVISION

Before Monday’s games even began, West Fargo (ND), Waterford (CT) and Mifflin County (PA) all knew they would be the three teams advancing out of the pool. All three teams had a chance to earn a #1 seed and a first-round bye. Mifflin County seemed to have the hardest road to the pool’s top seed; not only did the boys from Pennsylvania need a win over Ottumwa while allowing as few runs as possible, they also needed Waterford to score a lot of runs and beat West Fargo.

Mifflin County did its part easily, defeating Ottumwa 11-1 in five innings. Each team scored a run in the first; Ottumwa’s tally came without a hit, and Mifflin starter Ethan Eichhorn would not allow a hit all game. Mifflin broke the game open with five runs in the third, and put it away with five more in the fifth.

Having allowed just one run in its game, Mifflin still needed two things to earn the #1 seed. Waterford needed to beat West Fargo, giving all three teams 3-1 pool records. The tiebreaker in that situation was runs allowed, so Mifflin also needed West Fargo to allow seven or more runs to score. Almost on cue, shortly after Mifflin wrapped up its win, Waterford erupted for a nine-run fifth inning.

Even though Waterford carried a 9-3 lead into the seventh inning, the Mifflin County faithful still had to sweat it out. West Fargo scored three runs in the seventh before making an out, then scored two more, placing the tying run at third and the go-ahead run at second with two down. The final West Fargo batter struck out, however, allowing Waterford to escape with a 9-8 victory, and giving Mifflin the #1 seed and a bye on Tuesday. Waterford earned a #2 seed, while West Fargo settled for the #3 seed.

NATIONAL DIVISION

When Monday began, only Pearl City (HI) had clinched a spot in the bracket out of this pool. Sarasota (FL) and Spokane (WA) both had hopes of a 1-seed, but could be eliminated with the wrong sequence of results. Meridian (MS) needed a win and some help to get in.

Both games were tightly contested affairs, and Meridian did all it could by beating Spokane 2-1. That gave Meridian two possible avenues to advance; they either needed Pearl City to beat Sarasota and score at least nine runs while doing it, or they simply needed Sarasota to beat Pearl City. Despite its loss, Spokane would still advance as long as Pearl City won by any score.

When the Meridian-Spokane game ended, Pearl City was clinging to a 3-2 lead over Sarasota in the fifth inning. With the possibility of a high-scoring Pearl City all but eliminated, the stakes became more clear. The winner between Pearl City and Sarasota would get the #1 seed out of the pool. If Pearl City won, Meridian would be eliminated, but if Sarasota won, Spokane would have to go home.

As you might expect–and certainly, as any neutral observer would have hoped–the game came down to the final batter. Still down a run in the bottom of the seventh, Sarasota advanced the tying run to third base with two out. The final batter grounded out to short, however, allowing Pearl City to escape with a 3-2 win. The boys from Hawaii became the only team to go 4-0 in pool play, and they earned a #1 seed. The results meant a 3-way tie for second, third and fourth places; the tiebreakers gave Spokane the 2-seed and Sarasota the 3-seed, while Meridian ends up on the outside looking in.

TUESDAY’S SCHEDULE

FIELD 1: West Fargo vs. Spokane, 5:30

FIELD 2: Sarasota vs. Waterford, 5:30

WEDNESDAY’S SCHEDULE

FIELD 1: West Fargo OR Spokane vs. Mifflin County, 5:30

FIELD 2: Sarasota OR Waterford vs. Pearl City, 5:30

THURSDAY

Championship Game, 6:00

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