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PONY stars bow out of series

August 14, 2008|By DOUG STREET (Washington Observer-Reporter)

WASHINGTON, Pa. -- The top of any batting order needs to get things going for the rest of the offense in order to have success. Tamiami, Fla., didn't just have a good group leading things off Wednesday, they were nearly perfect.

The top three batters in Tamiami's lineup -- Victor Fuentes, Rafi Vazquez and Robert Fuentes -- combined to score 10 runs, hit a home run and drive in seven runs as the South Zone champions stayed alive in the PONY World Series with a 15-3, five-inning win over Hagerstown at Lew Hays Pony Field.

"After the first game (a 5-1 loss to Long Beach, Calif.), we've really focused at the plate," said Tamiami coach Carlos Fuentes. "We're usually pretty powerful at the plate and after that first game we've turned it around."

As has been the case in most of the World Series games this year, a big inning led to another mercy-rule game. This one was the seventh game of 10 so far to end by the 10-run rule.

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Hagerstown's defense, or lack thereof, was a big reason it was sent home. Hagerstown committed four errors and allowed Tamiami to get extra bases on several mental lapses.

"Our defense let us down," Hagerstown manager Steve Berger said. "Take away a couple of errors and we're still playing. It was ugly, and then it snowballed from there."

Tamiami scored three times in each of the first two innings, but Hagerstown hung in with a run in each of the first three innings to keep the game respectable at 6-3.

The problem for Hagerstown was it couldn't string together a couple of hits in any inning to completely get back in the game. Tamiami, on the other hand, had no problem with that whatsoever, especially in an eight-run fourth inning.

"Our three-four-five hitters just didn't get it done for us," Berger said of the middle of his order, which went 0-for-8 with three strikeouts. Every at-bat also came with runners in scoring position.

"I don't know if the middle of order was trying to hit 10-run homers or what," Berger said. "I think they were trying to do too much and instead didn't look like they had much of a clue at the plate."

Victor Fuentes' third plate appearance typified Hagerstown's night. For starters, he reached base on an error. He moved to second on a fielder's choice and to third when Hagerstown second baseman Ryan Butts couldn't catch a throw for the force at second. Fuentes scored from third when, on the same play, Hagerstown starting pitcher Dylan Ianaro threw the ball away when no Hagerstown player was paying attention as Rafi Vazquez took second base. The errant throw allowed Fuentes to score his third run of the game and made it 7-3.

"When we see something, we try to take advantage of it," Carlos Fuentes said of his team's ability to take extra bases. "We're big, but we have some speed and we'll put pressure on defenses."

And that was just the start of a bad inning for Hagerstown.

Robert Fuentes followed with a two-run homer to make it 9-3. Three singles and a double led to two more runs to make it 11-3, still with no outs. By then Ianaro, who allowed 10 runs, was pulled for Jake Bachtell, and he gave up five more in one-third of an inning, including a three-run triple by Victor Fuentes, who finished with four runs scored.

Tamiami advances to face Long Beach in a rematch scheduled to begin at 8 p.m. If Tamiami wins, the two teams will meet again Friday for the right to play in the championship game.

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