|Connecticut beats Orlando and Tulsa to reach final game
By LEE WHITE
Express Sports Editor
(As originally published in the Chickasha Daily Express)
Other than winners, what do you call the guys from the Connecticut Baseball Academy who played their way Friday
into the championship game of the National AAU tournament? Academicians?
Academicians seems a tad stuffy for 13-year-olds who do whatever physical tasks it takes to win baseball games, and
who not only hobnob with Indians, Raiders, Indians, Vikings, Indians, Mariners, Indians, and Scorpions, but are
offspring of the most boisterous fans, fans who show up en masse for what amounts to a block party whenever the
Academicians, or whatever nickname you care to give the Connecticut boys, play baseball at any of the seven tourna
Those rowdy moms, dads, and siblings decked out in purple this and purple that spent most of Friday at Elliott Field,
two games of standing, clapping, bottle rattling that left no mistake which team had the most support in the stands
never mind East Hartford, Connecticut is about the most distant city represented in this year's baseball shoot-out.
The tournament concludes at 4 p.m. Saturday when the Connecticut Baseball Academy takes on the Texas Titans to
settle in All Sports Stadium in Oklahoma City who is the best 13-under baseball team in the Country.
In a 1:30 p.m. game also in All Sports Stadium, St. Petersburg and Tulsa battled for third place honors.
To get a shot at the national title, Connecticut slipped past Orlando's Scorpions, 6-5, in an eight-inning affair Friday
morning, and knocked off the Tulsa Indians, 8-4, Friday afternoon, both games at Elliott Field in Chickasha.
1st Round: Academy 6, Scorpions 5
The Scorpions scored three times in the first inning on singles by Adam Donachie and Ben Hall and by taking
advantage of three Connecticut errors. During the Orlando first-inning rally, the Academy changed pitchers, sending
Kyle Wirtz to the mound. He pitched the remainder of the game, allowing two runs on two hits in the next seven innings.
Orlando's starter, Hall, pitched all of regulation, and into the eighth inning allowing seven hits.
The Academy scored a run in the third, two in the fourth and fifth innings, and the game decider in the top of the
In the fourth, Connecticut tied the game at 3-3, the tying run being driven in by Gary Diaz's smash through the
pitcher's mound into center field.
The Scorpions moved a run ahead in their half of the fourth. The Florida team loaded the bases, and got one run
home on Donachie's sacrifice fly. Kyle Patrick lead off with a towering double that sailed over the centerfielder's head.
Patrick scored the run.
Connecticut tied the score at 4-4 in the top of the fifth on Greg Zurlis' two-out double that rolled to the fence in left
center. Joshua Hatch followed with a double that got Zurlis home for a 5-4 lead. Hatch was out attempting to stretch a
double into a triple.
The Scorpions began the bottom of the seventh inning needing a run to tie, or two to win. What they got was the tying
run on a close play at first base on Hall's infield hit that drove home Orlando's fifth run sending the game into extra
Connecticut got the winning run on a designed play in which a runner on first creates a situation for the runner on third
to score by getting trapped off first base in a rundown. Orlando's throw home in midst of the rundown to keep the guy
on third from scoring was off target.
One of the best defensive plays of the tournament stung Orlando in the bottom of the eighth. Connecticut's pitcher,
Wirtz, made a diving catch of a dinky fly ball hit his way, and doubled off a runner at first. The next Orlando batter
grounded out to the first baseman to end the game.
Semifinals: Academy 8, Tulsa 4
In Connecticut's second game of the day, its opponent, the Tulsa Indians, seemed to be holding the trump card as the
game commenced. The Indians had saved their ace pitcher, Buck Shaw, the guy who'd thrown a no hitter earlier in the
tournament, to do battle in the second round in the eight-team championship bracket tournament. The TuIsans had
beat another tribe, the Tennessee Indians, 8-5, Friday morning in their first game played at Anadarko.
Shaw did not have one of his better tournament games. Connecticut scored seven runs on seven hits and six walks in
the six innings he worked. However, his teammates committed six errors behind him.
As in the first game played Friday, Connecticut's starting pitcher never made it through the first inning. In the bottom
half of the inning, Tulsa scored twice on two hits, one error, and two stolen bases.
Dash Kellner came in to pitch for the Academy, and stayed the duration for the win.
Tulsa scored its first two runs in the bottom of the first with back to back doubles by Matt McCoy and Grant Robertson
that went to the fence. McCoy had hit three out of the park homers at other tournament sites. Jack Shaw also had a
single for Tulsa in the first.
The Indians got another run in the third and one in the seventh after the game had been decided.
With the game tied 3-3 after three, Connecticut rallied in the fourth for four runs on three hits that proved to be more
than enough to put away the Indians, especially since Connecticut pitcher Kellner was devastating in the middle and
final innings. Tulsa could put a bat on the ball, but fly after fly sailed like missiles aimed at outfielders positions on the
Three hits, two walks, and sloppy Tulsa defensive play allowed the Academy to put four runs on the board before a
ground out finally ended the inning.
Leading 7-3 going to the seventh, Connecticut added another run to its lead on a wild pitch, and Tulsa got it back in
the bottom of the inning on a sacrifice fly.