Hammond Bulldogs win Cal Ripken World Series opener
By Anthony Nasella Post-Tribune correspondent August 9, 2013 11:12PM
The Phoenix 10U team finished the season by capturing fifth place at the NSA “A” World Series in Chattanooga, Tenn., July 22-27. The Phoenix made it to the World Series after going undefeated and winning the NSA “A” Northern Indiana state championship in late June. The team consisted of (bottom row, from left to right) Alaina Smith, Madison Snemis, Megan Gatz, Madison Slivka, Morgan Spicer; (top row, from left to right) Emma Hurley, Ella Bormet, Emmy Wells, Hannah Camarena, Karlie Lemmons. Not pictured are coach Jim Smith and assistant coaches Fred Hurley and Mike Spicer. | PHOTO PROVIDED
Updated: September 11, 2013 6:16AM
HAMMOND — As the Hammond Bulldogs 12-year-old team prepared for its Cal Ripken World Series contest against the Grand Forks (N.D.) Bombers on Friday, coach Tom McDermott admitted that starting pitcher Rigoberto Martinez was feeling a bit uptight about such a big game.
But three runs on a pair of towering home runs in the top of the first inning by his teammates relaxed Martinez more than a masseuse ever could. From there, Martinez dominated over 42/3 innings, striking out 10 Grand Forks batters.
Meanwhile, the Bulldogs tacked on five more runs in the fourth inning and prevailed 8-1 at the Hammond Optimist Youth Sports Complex.
“As well as Rigoberto pitched, I know he was nervous,” McDermott said. “It was a lot easier on Rigo when we scored three runs. He calmed down and pitched incredible. The host team doesn’t usually win against regional champs, so we’re very excited about this win.”
Hammond (46-8) got on the board when Randall Perrin smacked a high 2-2 fast ball over the center field fence for a 2-0 lead with two out in the first. Daniel Villarreal followed Perrin with a towering solo shot to deep left field.
“We have a lot sluggers on this team,” McDermott said. “Randall has been a consistent hitting star for us. I’m a lucky coach because I have such a great group of kids. The home runs got the kids pumped up, but it was an intense dugout all game.”
Martinez struck out two Grand Forks batters in the first and second innings, and he struck out the side in the third inning. Grand Forks finally got a hit with its first at-bat in the top of the fourth, breaking a streak of five straight strikeouts by Martinez.
“I was a little nervous before the game,” Martinez said. “But when I got in my groove, I started mixing up my pitches.”
Grand Forks threatened in the bottom of the fourth, compliments of a single and a pair of batters hit by Martinez pitches to load the bases. However, Martinez regained his composure and struck out the last two batters of the inning.
In the fifth, Martinez walked two batters, one of which scored and a single by Brandon Holt. Liam Ochi relieved Martinez and got Cole Hanson to ground out with runners on second and third and closed out the game in the sixth.
“Liam shut the door,” McDermott said.