Host Hammond reaches Cal Ripken World Series semifinals
By Anthony Nasella Post-Tribune correspondent August 13, 2013 11:06PM
Crown Point's Alec Matalin hits a home run against South Lexington during the bottom of the third inning of the Cal Ripken Baseball World Series held at the Hammond Optimus Youth Sports Complex in Hammond, Ind., Monday, August 13, 2013. | Guy Rhodes/For Sun-Times Media
Updated: September 15, 2013 6:38AM
HAMMOND — As Hammond Optimist prepared to face East Boise in Tuesday’s Cal Ripken Major/60 World Series contest, head coach Tom McDermott said that his team had lost two games in a row just once this season.
And the Bulldogs made sure that it didn’t happen twice.
Hammond, behind five RBI by Daniel Villareal and another solid pitching performance by Rigo Martinez, defeated East Boise 11-1 to secure the first seed in Thursday’s semifinal round at the Hammond Optimist Youth Sports Complex, where it faces the winner of Wednesday’s 8 p.m. game between Crown Point and Grand Forks, N.D.
“This is pretty amazing,” McDermott said. “If you told me at the beginning of the season that this is where we would be, I would have laughed. To see the kids get this far is amazing.”
Villareal, who went 3-for-3, doubled home Hammond’s first two runs in the first and smacked a two-run home run to right center field in the second to make the score 7-0. After Randall Perrin tripled home two runs in the third to make it 9-1, Villareal singled home his fifth run of the game.
“Batting practice every day is the key for me,” Villareal said. “I saw their pitcher messing with his glove, and I was thinking curve ball — and that’s the pitch I hit for the home run.”
With Crown Point having already secured a spot in Wednesday’s quarterfinals, coach Bob Bauner wanted his top pitchers to have a much-needed day of rest to prepare for the single-elimination block of the series.
Crown Point’s opponent on Tuesday, South Lexington, Ky., took advantage of the pitching disparity, slugging three home runs on its way to a 12-1 victory in four innings.
South Lexington, which secured the No. 2 seed, was led on the mound by Jared Gadd, who gave up just four hits in four innings. A grand slam by Brendan Hord and two-run homers by Gavin Hall and Jacob Stamm were too much for Crown Point to make up.
“We’re in it (the quarterfinals),” Bauner said. “That was the key to it. Now we’re fresh with our pitching. They had the day off, and they’ll be ready to go. Lexington is a great team; but better that we lose today than later. We knew on a good day that we could play with any team here.”
Alec Matalin’s leadoff homer in the bottom of the third finally put Crown Point on the board, cutting the deficit to 8-1.
“Every now and then you run into a bad game,” Bauner said. “Even in the Major Leagues, the best teams lose 60 games a year. We’ll put this game behind us and come ready to play Wednesday. They’ll be ready because it’s one and done.”