While pitching and defense are the cornerstones to successful baseball teams, you normally don’t see great demonstrations at both in 10U leagues.
But that wasn’t the case Thursday night at Robnett Field at the Optimist Fields when the Astros took on the Cubs. Both teams flashed the leather well in the game, but the Astros made just a few more bigger plays with their bat to get their first victory of the season in the 5-3 win.
“We’ve gotten close to a win a couple of times and the boys have been working hard,” Astros coach Teresa Conroy said. “We’ve had our team pretty much stay intact since the spring season, so we have a strong infield and a strong first part of the lineup.”
One of the players the coach pointed out as being much improved since the spring is lead off man and second baseman Chris Garza. He led off the game by drawing a walk and stealing second and third.
Aidan Conroy walked and stole second to get two runners in scoring position. Josue Gutierrez drove in Garza with an infield single to the shortstop and made it 1-0 early.
Two batters later, Andrew Pierce looked like he had an infield single up the middle, but the Cubs’ pitcher, Erik Jendrzey, made a diving grab and then threw him out at first. That play did allow Conroy to score from third and give the Astros a 2-0 lead.
The Cubs responded just as quickly in the bottom of the first when lead off man Sergio Salinas led off with a walk and stole second and advanced to third on an overthrow on the steal. Two walks by Garrett Milliken and Ethan Child loaded the bases and Salinas scored when Zack Ferguson reached on an error.
The Astros’ starter, Jesse Taylor, got two strike outs in the inning, but a huge play by Garza kept it at 2-1. With the bases loaded and two outs, Trevor Blankenship thought he had a single to right field as the ball got past the Astros’ first baseman. But Garza was going to back him up and dove to grab the ball. He then dove for the base and just beat Blankenship to the bag as he reached for the bag with the ball in his bare hand.
“He’s just been hustling out there and made that great play at first,” Conroy said. “That was awesome. I’ve seen probably more improvement from him than any other player on the team this summer.”
Jendrzey coasted through the first two batters of the second as he got a pair of ground outs back to him, but walked Sebastian Stokes, Stephen Linscomb and Hunter Poynor to load the bases for Garza. The Astros’ second baseman took advantage of the situation with a single to right field to score Stokes and Linscomb and make it 4-1 Astros after two innings.
Taylor struck out the first two Cubs he faced in the second, but a walk and a hit batter got runners on the corner. Coach Conroy went to the bullpen and brought in player Conroy, who threw just one pitch, a fly ball to left field that looked like it would fall for extra bases, but Stokes made a great running grab to end the inning. That play gave the bats momentum as Gutierrez singled to right field and stole two bases before scoring on a single by Andrew Pierce up the middle.
Despite allowing the run, Child struck out three batters in the inning.
With time expired, the Cubs had to come up with four runs to force extra innings. With one out, Ferguson reached via a walk and scored when Milliken doubled to the wall in left-center field. Blankenship followed that with a single up the middle to score Milliken and make it 5-3. Conroy got a strike out and then the defense stepped up behind him for one more out and the win. Domenic Teixeira hit a hard grounder to third, but Gutierrez made a great snag and threw a strike to Taylor to end the game.
The Astros (1-3) will play again at 6 p.m. Monday against the Red Sox (0-4-1) at Henry Curry Field. The Cubs (1-3-1) will play the Red Sox in the second game of their doubleheader right after the Astros’ game.
Other WYB scores
Rockies 2, MID Expos 1
Pirates 5, Rangers 1
Braves 7, Rangers 3
Phillies 7, Rangers 4
Ferris Jackets 13, Astros 3
EC Drillers 7, Braves 6
Rangers 12, Red Sox 5
Cubs 7, Yankees 5
Ovilla Thunder 13, Palmer Pirates 9
Rangers 10, Astros 6
Giants 9, Cubs 6
Astros 5, Cubs 3
Ovilla Thunder 12, Giants 8
Royals 8, Yankees 8
Marlins 12, Indians 11
Red Sox 18, Yankees 6
Indians 21, Astros 7
Marlins 16, Yankees 2
MID Express 7, WAX Astros 0
CH Astros 11, MID Express 10
Angels 15, Rangers 14
CH Astros 7, MID Express 0
Rangers 15, Astros 14
Bulldogs 20, Dodgers 13
Dodgers 16, Astros 15
Bulldogs 19, Cardinals 19
Cardinals 20, Astros 8
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