On a beautiful Tuesday evening at Lincoln Field, the 12u tournament began with an upset.
Behind some stellar pitching from Marion Contreras and a four-run fourth inning, No. 5 seeded IMG bounced back from a four-run, first inning deficit and advanced to the semifinal round with a 7-5 triumph over No. 4 seeded Crest Lanes.
Contreas dazzled over three innings, showing command on both his fastball and his offspeed pitches, keeping the Crest Lanes’ lineup at bay all evening. He allowed just one hit and one earned run, striking out nine batters in the process.
“Contreas came in the third inning and helped slow the game down,” IMG Head Coach DeMarcus Dungey said. “They came out, but obviously, pitching and defense can dominate a game. He came in the third inning, held them down, and we were able to capitalize.
“He’s definitely deserving of the game ball. He came in and threw strikes. That’s all I can ask him to do.”
While IMG ultimately found a way to win, they had to overcome a rocky start to do so.
Crest Lanes’ Amar Rodgers and Kobe Johnson swatted back-to-back one out singles to put men abroad, and Andrew Monday followed with an RBI triple, scoring both runners for a 2-0 lead. Kyler Thompson scored Monday with an RBI single of his own, before crossing home plate on an IMG throwing error to put Crest Lanes up 4-0 after one half inning of play.
However, IMG never let their heads dip or their spirits wane. They kept fighting, and eventually found their rhythm.
“You have to take the game a half-inning at a time,” Dungey said. “Baseball is a game where it can change at the snap of a finger. It’s all about momentum, and once you gain that momentum, you have to keep that momentum. That’s what we did.”
After getting one run back in the second on a Crest Lanes error, IMG grabbed the lead back for themselves in the fourth, scoring four runs with the help of several Crest Lanes miscues.
Kaiden King, Kaleb McClong, Contreras, and Kiontaye Woods all reached base via errors, with three of those four eventually scoring. Ayden Garcia collected the biggest hit of the frame, a two-run single that helped IMG grab a 5-4 lead after four innings of action.
Crest Lanes was able to tie the contest back up in the fifth, as Thompson singled and later scored on a passed ball, but IMG regained the lead for good in the top of the sixth. Contreras walked and scored on a passed ball, while Woods added some additional insurance with ab fielder’s choice RBI, scoring Garcia.
Garcia, after struggling in the first inning on the mound, came back in in the bottom of the sixth to seal the deal, striking out two and inducing a groundout to first to end the inning.
For IMG, Garcia finished 2-for-3 from the dish, scoring two runs and driving in two more. Drew Johnson and Kaiden Kinder each finished with a hit.
Monday and Rodgers each led Crest Lanes with two hits apiece, while Monday finished with a pair of runs batted in their final game of the summer season.