Before the state Babe Ruth baseball tournament, Bismarck coach Jaden Scott saw something in Carson Motschenbacher that made him think the tall outfielder could bat leadoff.
The hunch proved right at the state tournament and it’s continuing to play out at the 13-15 Babe Ruth World Series in Bismarck.
On Sunday, Motschenbacher provided the most offense in a game that was all offense and little pitching, helping Bismarck to an 11-9 win over Southwest Region champion Eagle Pass, Texas, in the final pool play game for each team.
The win insured Bismarck (3-1) would advance to the bracketed tournament beginning Tuesday. It will have to wait until Monday when Northwest Pacific champion Columbia Basin completes pool play to know whether it is the first or second seed. Columbia Basin holds the tie-breaker edge courtesy of an 8-5, 13-inning win over Bismarck on Thursday.
Columbia Basin and MLB China were tied 10-10 in the eighth inning when play was suspended due to rain on Sunday night. The game will resume on Monday at 11 a.m. Norwalk (Conn.) and Millville (N.J.) will follow with their pool play game which was supposed to be played on Sunday.
Motschenbacher was 3-for-3 with two runs scored and an RBI against Eagle Pass. He is hitting .357 in the tournament with five runs scored.
“He’s done a good job of getting on base all year and that’s why we put him up there,” Scott said. "But he’s not a typical leadoff hitter. He can swing it and hit some gaps for us. I think he feels comfortable there and we are comfortable with him there.”
Motschenbacher started the hit parade in the first. He also singled and scored in the eight-run third. He singled and scored again in the fourth as Bismarck's lead ballooned to 10-1.
“I was trying to get good at-bats, get their pitch count up and wait for a pitch to take where I wanted to,” Motschenbacher said.
Eagle Pass banged out 10 hits, two each by Omar Salazar, Jarrod Romero, Eddie Sepulveda and Manuel Melchor. Salazar, Romero and Sepulveda scored two runs each.
Carter Klipfel had a hit, scored twice and drove in a run for Bismarck. Isaac Pegors and Lucas Schell drove in two runs each.
Sepulveda started and lasted just 2 1/3 innings before running into trouble and leaving after 48 pitches. He suffered the loss as Eagle Pass never led again. Roger Manchaca came on and lasted just nine pitches and Aaron Treviso came on and he, too, lasted just nine pitches. Neither got an out.
Kali Salinas came on and went the last 3 2/3 innings, allowing just two hits and two runs.
“He’s one of those kids we use in an emergency and sometimes it works out and today it worked out,” Eagle Pass Eduardo Sepulveda said. “Unfortunately, we were two runs short.”
Bismarck scored eight runs on just three hits in the third. But a runner reached on a strikeout and passed ball and five others walked.
After four innings, Bismarck led 10-1 and was on the verge of 10-running its opponent. But Salinas stopped the Bismarck onslaught and Southwest rallied against a so-so mound effort.
Eagle Pass shaved Bismarck's lead down to 10-9 thanks to back-to-back four-run innings that again included two bases loaded walks. Bismarck has walked in nine runs in four games.
“Ultimately all that matters is the final score, that we’re ahead,” Scott said. “We’re happy about that but we know we have to get some stuff figured out if we want to have a chance. That (bases-loaded walks) has to stop. It’s not like it’s completely new to us but this is the worst we have seen of it.”
Scott says it may still be nerves, even four games into the tournament.
“It’s by far the biggest stage these kids have played on and those things get amplified. When it rains it pours; when you’re 15, that’s how it feels,” Scott said.
Eduardo Sepulveda was proud of the way his team came back after falling way behind, even though the team’s chance of moving on is likely over.
“If the score would have ended 9-1, I would have felt really bad,” Sepulveda said. “When we were down 9-1, I had to get their hands and do a little prayer to make them understand anything is possible. Knowing that the boys came back and fought and never gave up on me, that’s a plus.”
BAKERSFIELD (CALIF.) 2, ARLINGTON (VA.) 1
Adam Enyart raced home on Michael Baker’s two-out single in the ninth as Pacific Southwest champion Bakersfield, Calif., outlasted Southeast champ Arlington, Va., 2-1 in the opening game on Sunday.
Enyart led off the ninth with a single off Arlington starter and tough-luck loser James Tallon, who worked 8 1/3 innings, allowing five hits and striking out five. He did not walk a batter.
Baker singled on a 2-2 pitch from Michael Keefe and Enyart beat the throw home to break the tie and make a winner of Bakersfield reliever Kaleb Hay.
Hay replaced starter Blake Edgmon with one out in the fifth and worked 4 2/3 innings for the win. Hay gave up three hits, struck out six and walked on.
AC Charles gave Bakersfield a 1-0 led with an RBI single in the second. Arlington tied it in the fifth when Quinn Brennan singled, went to second on a wild pitch and to third on Landon Thomas’ single. He came home on Bobby McDonough’s single to right.
Thomas had three hits. Brennan and McDonough added two each.
Baker was 3-for-4.