EPHRATA – The Alabama Rawdogs continued their dominance on Saturday, taking home the title in the 16-18U Babe Ruth World Series in Ephrata.
Alabama went undefeated throughout the tournament, outscoring opponents by 60 runs over the six games played.
“Our goal was to get here and win it, and obviously perform well,” Rawdogs manager Tony Hendrix said. “When you got a team like this, our guys are swinging top to bottom.”
The Rawdogs began pool play with three consecutive wins by double-digit runs before defeating the Southeast Tropics 4-2 in the final match of pool play. After earning the top seed in the American Division, Alabama had a first-round bye in bracket play.
“I always tell our guys, it’s hard to win when you first get here,” Hendrix said of his past managing experience in the World Series. “Fortunately, we’ve been to several (World Series), and I think experience in the dugout – just not getting caught up in the World Series and the name of it – goes a long way for our team.”
In the bracket play semifinals, the Rawdogs’s bats came alive once again for a 16-1 victory over the Stamford Thunder. The offense scored six runs in the first inning, eight in the third and two in the fourth before the run rule was enacted, ending the game in the fourth inning.
“The whole credit goes to our hitters,” Hendrix said. “Our pitching was a little low, but we had some young guys step up. It’s a great team win.”
The Tropics finished pool play with a 3-1 record, their only loss being to the Rawdogs. They opened bracket play with a 3-1 win over the host team Columbia Basin Riverdogs, followed by a 2-1 win over the Northwest Bakersfield Waves on Friday. Entering the championship, the Tropics were the only team to hold the Rawdogs to score under 10 runs in a game.
“The competition was solid, it’s always solid here,” Hendrix said. “The extra pressure, you know, you have to play to win. It’s not like travel ball tournaments.”
Scoring in the championship game began with a sac-fly by Zane Stokes, sending Tyrese Rooks home for a 1-0 lead. Scoring was hard to find through the first three innings, with stout pitching on the mound for both teams.
“Just nerves,” Hendrix said of what led to the early lull in scoring.
In the bottom of the fourth inning, Rawdog players Kobe Wiggins, Hollon Brock and Lane Goff hit back-to-back-to-back RBI singles to stretch the lead to four. In the bottom of the fifth, Rooks advanced on a fielding error and Wiggins scored again on Brock’s second RBI single to give the Rawdogs a 6-0 lead.
“Settling down, and just relaxing,” Hendrix said of what led to more offensive output. “Playing our game. We were getting ourselves out with some pitches, the pitcher’s doing a good job.”
Pitcher Joseph Stephens surrendered three hits in the top of the seventh, but locked in to get the final out, giving his team the World Series win.
“I just wanted to get a win,” Stephens said. “Wanted to bring back a championship for us. We were having a good time, I just wanted to win it for (my teammates).”
Ian Bivona may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.