Washington’s opening game of the 2013 Pony League World Series was not without a few bright spots.
• Catcher Garrett Briant, who’s spent the better part of the summer bashing home runs, sent another one over the fence and was handed the ball in a ceremony prior to the top of the seventh inning.
• Starting pitcher Kyle Kelley, wishing to turn the event into a real-life memorial for his uncle Vincent Kelley, who was murdered outside of the Giant Eagle in South Strabane June 16, struck out seven.
• Left fielder Steve Schultz had a pair of hits, including a double in the second inning.
Yet between the peaks were quite a few valleys, as the German team from Paderborn collected 13 hits and cruised to an 8-1 victory over the local squad in front of 2,778 at Lew Hays Pony Field in Washington Park.
“We weren’t happy with how we played,” Schultz said. “We could have played better.”
Washington coach Rick Herrnberger said his team was nervous, later explaining this was the worst game he had seen his all-stars play all summer.
“We had some good things, but I think the kids were really nervous,” Herrnberger said. “I could see it in their bats.”
Germany scored in each of the first four innings to build a seven-run lead that Washington never seriously threatened.
Credit Germany starter Marvin Herrman, who threw his curveball for strikes and got ahead of Washington’s hitters early in counts. Herrman allowed five hits while striking out seven and walking one.
“We told them, 80 percent of the time it was a first-pitch curveball for a strike. Sit back on it,” Herrnberger said. “A lot of them were out on their front foot, being anxious.”
Germany opened a 4-0 lead in the bottom of the second inning, as center fielder Lucas Dunn, shortstop Niklas Rimmel and right fielder Ismail Ciftci strung together consecutive, run-scoring hits, Dunn’s a double smoked to left center.
The four-hit inning – Herrman also scorched a single to right that eluded Washington first baseman Mac Chambers – followed a run-scoring single to left in the first inning from third baseman Jeffrey Arndt.
“I think we played to our potential,” Paderborn coach Georg Bull said. “We had to play to our potential to beat a very strong Washington team. Everything went our way. We had timely hitting. Hit and runs worked.”
Germany stretched its lead to 6-0 in the third. Dunn smacked a single to left for his second RBI, and left fielder Marvin Kulinna came around to score when Rimmel reached on an error.
Kelley was tagged for eight runs before giving way to Connor Bedillion in the sixth.
Washington got its lone run when Briant crushed a curveball to the hill in right center, but it turned out to be too little too late.
Washington will play Los Mochis, Sinaloa, Mexico in an elimination game tonight at 8, while Paderborn will take on Hilo, Hawaii, at 3 p.m.
“Just keep playing our game,” Schultz said of what his team needed to do moving forward. “Hit the ball. We didn’t hit too well.”
Herrnberger said a collective deep breath might not be a bad idea for Washington.
“We have to play as a team,” Herrnberger said. “They need to relax. Just come out and play ball. Honestly, of all the games we played, that was the worst game we’ve played this year.”
Chambers and Connor Anderson added hits for Washington. … Ciftci finished with four hits and two RBI. Dunn added three hits and two RBI. … Arndt made a spectacular play in the sixth prior to Briant’s homer, lunging to hit left to rob Nick Herrnberger of a hit.