SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. - Angels pitcher River Quinn took a walk around the mound after his previous pitch went behind the batter. His team was up 10-8 over the No. 1-seeded Indians in the seventh inning of the second and final game of the South Tahoe Babe Ruth championship. The boys with the halos on their caps beat the Indians on Thursday to force another game in the double-elimination playoff tournament to determine the league champ.
"I was just trying to clear my mind, because I think I was thinking too much about the game and I was just under pressure," Quinn said. "I was just trying to clear my mind."
There was a lot on his plate, mainly the game-winning run. Chaz Ross was standing on second after a lead-off single to start the bottom of the seventh. Brandon Root was on first after drawing a walk. Tom Cefalu was in the batter's box and represented the winning run. Quinn finally stepped in front of the rubber and delivered a ball that Cefalu turned on, hitting it right to Moses Cueves at third base, who tagged a runner bound for third for the final out.
"I was yelling at him to touch his bag, because he wanted to go to third or first," Quinn said. "I didn't want him to make a bad throw. I'm glad he made the play."
The game started with a 2-1 Indians lead in the first. The Angels evened the score in the second, when Jessie Crouch was walked home. They took the lead shortly after on a Mason Cain single, which scored Dillon Milynski. Mike Valney scored on a walk after to give the Angels a 4-2 lead.
The Indians came right back in the third with three runs from Dakota Lynch, Jacob Sharp and Michael Crandall. Sharp scored on a close play at the plate to tie the game. Ross hit a two-RBI double to give the Indians a 5-4 lead. Their defense also made a stand in the bottom of the third with a one-two-three inning. The Indians came back to the plate in the fourth and tacked on two more runs with two outs. Root reached base on a single, then stole second and third base before being hit home on a Crandall single. Lynch scored on a Sharp single to left field, leaving the Angels down 7-4.
Even with those runs by the Indians, the fourth inning belonged to the Angels, who tied the game at 7-7 after posting three runs. With runners on first and second, Quinn singled to left and Valney tried for home from second, but was caught at the plate for the second out in the inning. The Angels created a two-out rally of their own though. Cain scored on a Sergio Burguero single that put runners on second and third. Colin Bucholz hit a short blooper that just reached the edge of the grass and scored two runs to make it anyone's game.
"The kids, we were down a little bit, but they play well as a team and a couple of key hits, a couple of key defensive plays and their chins went up and they started hitting," said Angels coach Perry Quinn. "We've been hitting well all season with two strikes and two outs."
It was a scoreless fifth inning, but the run drought didn't last much longer than that. Sharp scored from second on a Crandall single through the infield that found space between shortstop and third base, giving the Indians an 8-7 lead. The Angels responded with three runs of their own in the sixth though to go up 10-8. With bases loaded, Crouch scored from third on a Cain infield blooper, in which he made it all the way to third before being tagged out, tying the game and keeping the bases loaded.
Quinn stepped into the batter's box next with a chance to help himself out, as he would take the mound the next inning. Quinn hit a hard grounder just out of reach of the second baseman and scored two runs to give the Angels a lead they kept.
"The kids played an outstanding season, it was easy for me as the coach. All I had to do was call the plays and put the kids in their spot and they did all the work," Quinn said.
The Angels lost their first game of the playoffs to the Indians on June 17, forcing them to win three straight games to claim the Babe Ruth title. The Indians did not lose a game until Thursday of last week to the Angels, which is why there was a second game played to decided the league champion.