Don’t mess with Texas
The 9,300 enthusiastic spectators in attendance at Lamade Stadium Sunday afternoon witnessed a pivotal Pool A showdown. Fort Worth, Texas and Waipahu, Hawaii were both 1-0 in pool play and would guarantee a spot in the elimination round with a victory.
The loser of Sunday’s match up would need a victory in their final game to gain a berth in the next round of competition.
Fort Worth jumped out to an early lead with a two-out rally in the top of the first inning. After Walker Kelly hit a bloop double to shallow centerfield, Michael “Mikey” Valdez scorched a two-bagger of his own down the left field line, bringing home Kelly.
Texas padded their lead in the second inning. Kelly roped his second double in as many at-bats, this one all the way to the left-center field wall. Kelly’s base-knock brought in two teammates. Valdez again followed Kelley’s example. The pitcher sent a two-RBI single up the middle to give his team a 5-0 lead.
The “small hits” are nothing new to the Texas squad.
“We are a small ball team,” said Fort Worth manager Jon Kelly. “Today it was singles and doubles, that is what we do. You don’t see much coming close to the fence, but you see a lot of small hits.”
Texas did have a lot of hits, 13 to be exact.
“That is the kind of hitting we did [in the district tournament], and that is what was working today,” Kelly added.
Valdez threw a solid game from the hill. He followed Kelly’s one-hit shutout performance on Friday with a one-hit shutout of his own.
“I can’t explain it,” Kelly said enthusiastically. “But we’ll take it.”
Valdez got help from a very stingy defense. The Fort Worth “D” turned two clutch double plays, one of them to end the game with the bases loaded.
“It feels great knowing that I do not have to throw my hardest out there,” Valdez said. “I know that if they hit a pitch, I have a great defense backing me up.”
“That was pretty much the best defense we have played against,” Hawaii manager Clyde Tanabe said. “The pitcher shut us down and the defense did a heck of a job.
“We couldn’t get anything out of the infield.”
Fort Worth plays Worcester Monday afternoon at Lamade Stadium. Waipahu faces Webb City in a must-win situation Monday night.