WATERVILLE — The final game of the Cal Ripken World Series will be a rematch of one of the tournament’s first.
On day one of the tournament, Weymouth, Massachusetts beat Andy Valley 2-1 in one of the World Series‘ the tightest matches. These two teams will meet for the biggest prize of all after picking up wins on Friday in their respective semi-finals. Weymouth beat Ararat 1-0, while Andy Valley beat South Bend 7-2.
Ararat and Weymouth were among the best teams in a tournament defined by parity. As the two teams faced off in the first of two semi-finals, it was the arm and bat of Weymouth’s Tommy Byrne that made the difference.
Byrne threw a one-game gem and delivered what would be the game-winning shot to lead Weymouth past Ararat in the first of two contests of the day at Purnell Wrigley Field. The Massachusetts ace threw just 61 shots in a complete one-hit game to lift his team to a berth in Saturday’s championship game.
“I don’t think you can ask for more from a kid this age,” said Weymouth co-manager Shaun Walsh. “To average 10 pitches per inning against an inning against an absolutely outstanding roster is just amazing. He really did it all. »
After Ararat fell in order in the top of the first inning, Weymouth threatened in the bottom half as he charged with one out. But Ararat kept the Massachusetts team off the board with a pair of big defensive plays with Brady Hiltz tagging Eric Murray home after a wild pitch and Riley Coombs hooking a potential hit through the air.
The game went scoreless until late in the third when Byrne overtook Luke Freeman at home to give Weymouth a 1-0 lead. Byrne stayed perfect until Ararat’s Emma Graffam hit an error in the top of the fifth, but he responded with three straight outs to put his team on the brink of victory.
Ararat would spoil the no-hitter offer and move within 120 feet of the tying run when Hiltz doubled to the wall with two outs in the sixth. Byrne, however, then forced soft ground at third base which Dylan Fiori-Hess clearly fielded and threw to first for the final out of the game.
“I didn’t get too nervous (after that hit),” said Byrne, who struck out seven batters. “I was totally fine. I knew it was time and I just needed another outing.
Timothy Mycroft had two singles for Weymouth, who also got singles from Freeman, Murray, Cameron McFarland and James Mills in addition to Byrne’s double. Hiltz struck out four batters in five innings for Ararat.
Both teams had finished the pool game 4-1 with Weymouth winning the National Division and Ararat finishing second in the United States. Weymouth received a bye following their first-place finish, while Ararat reached the semifinals with an 8-3 win over Green County, Ky., in Thursday’s quarterfinals.
For Ararat, it was the second straight year with a deep playoff. He reached the quarterfinals of last year’s World Series in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., before returning with a roster that included just two such players, Hiltz and Daniel Beal.
“These kids have been resilient, and I couldn’t be more proud of them,” said Ararat co-manager Rob Beal. “We’re third or fourth in the country, and that’s a lot to be proud of. We were one hit away, but their pitcher threw a hell of a game. I bet he threw first-pitch strikes 85% of the time.
Andy Valley then provided the majority of the dayin Game 2, as he showed power at the plate and took advantage of several South Bend defensive errors. Batter Jacoby Boyce hit a three-run homer for Andy Valley, who led the rest of the way to give South Bend its first loss of the tournament.
After both teams went down in order in the first inning, South Bend charged with one out late in the second. Still, Andy Valley’s Tucker Hilden responded by getting back-to-back strikeouts to end the threat and keep the game scoreless through two.
With two single runners on base at the top of third, Andy Valley took advantage as Boyce threw a commanding home run to left center field to put the Oxford Hills-based team up 3-0. South Bend, however, fought back in the bottom half of the frame as four base hits brought the Indiana team within a run.
Andy Valley found himself in an opportunistic position again in the top of the fifth when an error in the outfield turned what should have been a fly-ball into a starting triple. It was the first of what was a tough defensive streak for South Bend, and Andy Valley took advantage by adding four points in the frame.
Hilden and Rowen Pulkkinen split the duties on the mound for Andy Valley, with the former starting the game and the latter coming in relief with an out late in the third. Pulkkinen then escaped a jam and allowed just one shot the rest of the way before coming out with one out to go in the seventh.
“He’s a quiet lad, but he goes out there and does it every time,” Andy Valley co-manager Joe Trybus said. “We don’t even notify him; he just comes and does the job. He hits the zone and hits the runs, and his arm and Jacoby’s home run gave us the momentum we needed today.
Andy Valley and Weymouth will return to Little Wrigley for the Championship game at 1 p.m. Saturday. After the first game ended with little separation between the two teams, Walsh expects nothing different in the final of a competition thatsaw a clash of giants at the top.
“I think it’s going to be a great game between two great teams,” Trybus said. “Who knew the first match of the tournament was going to be a repeat of the last? We can not wait to be there.
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