Travelers roll through pool play at Top Gun Summer Nationals
From Staff Reports
MYRTLE BEACH, SC – The 15U Americus Travelers Baseball Team (ATB) showed why they have one of the best youth travel baseball programs in the Southeast on Friday and Saturday by winning four straight games in pool play in dominating fashion at the Top Gun Summer Nationals in Myrtle Beach, SC.
The Travelers won all four games in the pool play phase of the tournament, outscoring their opponents by a total of 47-8.
In their first game of the tournament on Friday, July 10, the Travelers struggled to pull out a 6-4 victory over the SC Force 15U squad. SCF jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning, but the Travelers responded with four runs in the bottom half of the inning. With runners at second and third and nobody out, Chase Ledger singled to center field, driving in Thomas Ray for the tying run. Caden King later scored on an error to give ATB a 2-1 lead. Later on in the inning with two outs, Tripp Thomas reached on an error, which allowed both Ledger and Thomas Willis to score.
SCF showed why they belong in this tournament as well. They scored three runs in the top of the second inning to tie the game. With two outs and the bases loaded, Brody Fowler reached on a dropped third strike, which allowed a run to score. Then Drew Culpepper drove in two more runs on an RBI double to right field.
However, as they have done just about all season, the Travelers responded in the clutch. In the bottom of the second inning, Peyton Tompkins led off with a single and Ray drew a walk to put runners at first and second with nobody out. After King executed a sacrifice bunt, which moved the runners to second and third, Ledger was able to drive home Tompkins on a fielder’s choice to give ATB a 5-4 lead. Then with two outs, Ray was able to score on a passed ball to increase the Travelers’ lead to 6-4.
It turned out that those two runs would be all that was needed for ATB to secure the victory. Willis came in and pitched two scoreless innings to help the Travelers earn their opening 6-4 win.
Ledger went 1 for 2 at the plate with a run scored and two RBIs. Tompkins also went 1 for 2 with a run scored in the game. While the Travelers were solid defensively, they were able to take advantage of four errors committed by SCF, which turned out to be crucial in the outcome of the game.
Landon Kight started on the mound for ATB and pitched the first two innings. Kight gave up four runs on three hits, walked two and struck out two. Willis came on in relief of Kight and pitched the final two innings without giving up a run.
The Travelers had a much easier time of it in their second game against the 15U Myrtle Marlins. They scored seven runs on four hits in the bottom of the first to take a commanding 7-0 lead. The big hit in the inning came off the bat of Landon Kight, who drove in three runs on a double to center field.
ATB added two runs in the bottom of the second and two more in the bottom of the third to secure the victory.
Caden King powered the ATB offense by going 2 for 3 with two runs scored. Kight went 1 for 2 with two runs scored and three RBIs.
King started on the mound for the Travelers in Friday’s Game 2. He pitched two innings and gave up no runs on one hit. He walked two and struck out two. Peyton Tompkins came on in relief of King and gave up one run on two hits in two innings of work. He walked two batters and struck out none.
“We got off to a great start today. We hit the baseball well. All four of our pitchers that threw today pitched to contact and we made plays behind them,” said ATB Head Coach Tim Estes.
On Saturday, July 11, the Travelers continued their onslaught in pool play when they followed up their 11-1 victory in Game 2 with a 14-1 shellacking of the Makos 15U club in Game 3. ATB scored six runs in the first inning and eight runs in the second to take an early 14-0 strangle hold on the game. Kight led the Travelers’ offensive attack by going 2 for 3 at the plate with two runs scored and two RBIs. Both Ray and King went 1 for 2 at the plate with two runs scored and two RBIs.
The Travelers used three pitchers in this game. Chase Ledger started on the mound and gave up no runs or hits in two innings pitched. He also struck out four batters.
Dylan Davis came on in the third inning and gave up one run on one hit. He walked two batters and struck out one. Tripp Thomas was the third and final pitcher used in the game. Thomas gave up no runs, hits or walks and struck out two batters.
ATB’s final game of pool play on Saturday against the Palmetto State Wolverines (PSW) ended up being another resounding lop-sided victory. They jumped out to an early 7-2 lead and scored eight more runs in the top of the third inning, including a two-run home run by Gavin Lacey. Those two offensive outbursts were enough for the Travelers to secure a 16-2 victory.
Thomas Ray led off the game with a triple. That at bat would set the tone for the rest of the contest. After Caden King drew a walk to put runners at first and third, Ledger grounded into a fielder’s choice, allowing Ray to score the first run of the game.
The Travelers went on to add six more runs in the inning on RBI doubles from Tripp Thomas and Peyton Tompkins to take and early 7-0 lead.
PSW responded with two runs in their half of the inning, but the Travelers added another run in the top of the second when Thomas Willis drove in Caden King on a fielder’s choice.
However, the Travelers were far from finished, as far as offense was concerned. They would score eight more runs on seven hits, including the two-run home run by Lacey. That eight-run onslaught in the top of the third effectively put the game away for the Travelers. While ATB played solid defense in this game, PSW committed four errors and the Travelers were able to take advantage.
Both Ray and Thomas had two hits in this game to help lead the Travelers’ offense. Ray went 2 for 3 with two runs scored and one RBI. Thomas went 2 for 2 at the plate with two runs scored and three RBIs. In total, the Travelers scored 16 runs on 10 hits and committed no errors.
Owen Lamb started the game on the mound for the Travelers and gave up two runs on one hit in one inning of work. Thomas Ray came on in relief of Lamb and pitched one scoreless inning with two strikeouts. Gavin Lacey came on in relief of Ray and finished the game. He gave up no runs or hits and struck out two batters.
As a result of going undefeated in pool play, the Travelers will be the No. 1 seed and will get an automatic bye to the semifinals on Sunday, July 12. They are two wins away from winning the Top Gun Summer Nationals. Stay tuned to the Americus Times-Recorder for further coverage.