Charleston Squirrels earn 9-4 win over Mt. Olive, move to 2-0 in World Series pool play
A back-and-forth baseball affair eventually fell the Charleston Fighting Squirrels’ way during Monday’s pool play game against Mt. Olive, New Jersey, at the Senior Babe Ruth World Series.
The Squirrels received a stellar outing from pitcher Austin Hicks and toppled the Marauders 9-4 in Ephrata, Washington, improving to 2-0 in pool play.
Hicks threw 6 2/3 innings, striking out 10 batters and giving up four runs before hitting the 105-pitch count limit for the Squirrels, who have won 12 in a row.
Charleston (41-6) secured an early lead after a three-run third spurred by a two-run triple from Cole Nichols, who finished 2-for-4. The Bell City standout later scored on a wild pitch to make it 3-0.
Mt. Olive, which fell to 0-2 in pool play, regrouped and answered with four runs in the top of the fourth after a few Charleston miscues.
The New Jersey team’s rally began after a ball fell between three Charleston players in short left field. An error in Charleston’s infield followed, which led to a fielder’s choice play that resulted in no outs to load the bases. Another fielder’s choice gave Mt. Olive their first run, followed by a two-run single to tie the game at 3-all.
The Middle Atlantic Regional champions took a 4-3 advantage with a sacrifice bunt later in the inning.
The Squirrels didn’t waste time taking the lead back, however, pushing across two runs with a small-ball approach in the bottom half of the fourth to take the lead for good.
A walk to Trey McDaniel led to a sacrifice bunt by Wyatt Pratt. Palmer Campbell singled to move McDaniel to third, which led to a squeeze bunt by Winston Welter to score McDaniel and tie the game at 4-4.
Hicks helped himself with a sacrifice fly two batters later, giving the Squirrels a 5-4 lead.
Charleston continued to pour runs in after a Mt. Olive error allowed Ty Householder to score in the bottom of the fifth. Pratt laid down another squeeze bunt for the Squirrels, enabling two runs to cross the plate for an 8-4 advantage.
Consecutive hit-and-run plays for the Squirrels worked perfectly in the sixth inning to make up the final score.
Hicks reached way out of the zone to move a runner to third with a single before Garrison Keene followed with a sacrifice bunt, hit high out of the zone as well, to plate Charleston’s ninth run of the game.
Hicks began closing the game out with two strikeouts to start the seventh, but hit his pitch-count limit before he could finish. That’s when Logan Damesworth worked around a Charleston error to fan the final batter and give Charleston a 2-0 record in the American Pool.
Things could have tilted one way or the other during an eventful first inning to Monday’s game.
Hicks managed to work out of a jam with one out and two runners in scoring position with the help of a pickoff throw to third from catcher Garrison Keene.
The Squirrels looked to bounce back in their half of the first, putting Nichols and Householder in scoring position quickly and easily. But a line drive off the bat of Braden Cox resulted in a 4-3 triple play to end the threat.
Charleston will take on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, at 4 p.m. today for a chance to secure a spot in bracket play. Cape Cod, which also won its first two games, took on the host team, Columbia Basin, Monday night after the newspaper went to press.