Facing potential elimination, Corpus Christi, Texas, shortstop Marco Castellanos made sure his team wasn’t heading home.
Castellanos was all the offense Corpus Christi needed, going 3-for-4 with a pair of doubles, a three-run homer and five RBI as the South Zone champions survived to play another day, defeating Johnstown, 8-3, Sunday afternoon in a 2014 Pony World Series elimination game.
“It felt real good,” said Castellanos. “It was nice to be able to get a couple of good pitches to hit and give my team a lift. We got the bats going after that.”
Corpus Christi starter Jake Chapman had early success mowing through the Johnstown lineup through two innings, but it all changed in the third.
Chapman hung a breaking ball that Johnstown’s Ethan Dabbs smacked into the left field corner for a double. One batter later, Hogan Helsel hit a two-run, opposite-field homer to right to give Johnstown a 2-0 lead.
The Johnstown lead didn’t last long, though, as starting pitcher Ethan Hunt ran into trouble in the bottom of third. Castellanos made him pay, crushing a three-run homer to left with two outs in the inning to put Corpus Christi up, 3-2.
Castellanos would make his presence felt again in the fourth inning.
Corpus Christi tacked on a run to make it 4-2 on a single from Hector Gonzales. Johnstown should have been out of the inning, but an error by Dabbs in right field prolonged things. Castellanos stepped to the plate with two out and delivered a two-run double to to give Corpus Christi a 6-2 lead.
Jaythan Luna added a solo homer in the fifth off Hunt for a 7-2 lead.
Corpus Christi manager Nick Sanchez had a quick hook with Chapman, replacing him with Aaron Sanchez in the third. Sanchez responded by throwing 3 2/3 innings, allowing only one run, to pick the win.
“We have been down a few times in other tournaments, so we didn’t panic,” said Sanchez. “We had to pull out all the stops, and we battled. I’m proud of the guys for battling. Our bats have been dead since we got here and we hung in there and finally got them going against a good team.”
With the victory, Corpus Christi advances to meet Levittown, Puerto Rico, in am elimination game at 10 a.m. today.
Johnstown, the Host Zone champion, heads home.
“I’m really proud of how far we came and how we hung in there against a couple of good teams,” said Johnstown manager Josh Day. “It was a great experience for our young guys, and it is something they should never forget. We gave them a couple extra outs a few times, and I give them credit for taking advantage of it.”