National walks away with a win
By Ed Shepherd
Big outs early on and patient plate appearances and rally hitting all served South Highline National well in a huge 14-13 comeback win over Renton in semifinal action of Tournament Of Champions Minors action at Normandy Park City Hall Park Sunday.
Reds manager Chad Parker made one thing pointedly clear.
"We came back as a team," Parker said.
A team of good Reds hitters were good not just for hitting the ball but for taking pitches just as Parker and coaches Gildo De Simone and Bjorn Jackson asked of them at the plate, for many walks. That really was the story of the game as Renton led, 9-3, going into the top of the fourth inning.
That's when the action started.
The Reds began their fourth down by six runs with a walk to Cole Fenton. Then a Tanner Jackson fielder's choice hit ball to shortstop got Fenton out at second base, so things looked good for Renton, getting the lead runner out after the inital walk to start the inning.
But Saverio De Simone would then get the only hit of the inning for the Reds on a ball to left-center field that put runners on second and third. Brayden Pedersen drew a walk, loading the bases before Jahmir Jackson walked and forced in Tanner Jackson to make it 9-4.
Far from done scoring in this third inning, the Reds scored again as Brayden Jackson drew a walk and made it, 9-5, when De Simone was forced in from third. A walk to Cooper Parker forced in Pedersen and Nick Balladone walked, too, forcing in Jahmir Jackson to make it 9-7. Then Ulysses Godinez' good eye and listening to coaches allowed him to get a base on balls so it was 9-8 as Cooper Parker scored from third.
Did the other team's pitching struggles change things for the batters?
"For sure," said Parker. "There were several 'take' signs. I think that was good that the batters could see that and it helped to settle them down. Down six runs, they don't have to think, 'I have to do everything on my own.'"
So, that was the way this game walked into the Renton bottom of the fourth where the foe did score a run on three singles to lead, 10-8.
But the Reds showed mettle and also muscle with the bats, no longer walking but hitting the ball, doing a nice transitition from patient plate appearances leading to runs in their top of the fourth inning at-bats.
Starting things off in the top of the fifth rally was Tate Parker's double. Then De Simone's triple brought in Parker with a run so it was 10-9. Then a Mason Hayes walk and a Sean McLaughlin double gave the Reds the lead, 11-10. Fenton's RBI double made it 12-10 and Ronan Bishop capped off the comeback with a RBI single to make it 13-10 Reds.
Renton did not score in the bottom of the fifth as McLaughlin, who pitched most of the game for the Reds and kept throwing it over the plate, watched two singles go into the books before nice strikeouts and an inning-ending ground out that Brayden Jackson fielded nicely ended the threat.
In the top of the sixth, the Reds scored another as Jahmir Jackson drew a walk, Brayden Jackson singled and Ballandone walked to load the bases. Then, Godinez drew a walk and that brought in a run to make it 14-10, Reds.
But that run would prove important as Renton put on one last fight in the bottom of the sixth. Renton started its last try at-bats with a double over left field's head as the new Reds pitcher, Tate Parker, took over for McLaughlin. Then, an RBI triple made it 14-11. Then, a hard hit to pitcher Parker was grabbed and thrown to first base but on the play a run scored, making it 14-12, Reds. Next, an RBI single to left field made it, 14-13.
But McLaughlin ended things with a nice fielding play at third base of a hot grounder and that made it game over.
At this age, it's important to note that a pitcher like McLaughlin can be getting hit by other team's hitters but the biggest thing is putting the ball over the plate and not walking guys and McLaughlin did not do much of that with only four in the game.
"I just kept throwing the ball, they were good hitters," said McLaughlin. "How we came back was really awesome."