Chesterfield County, Va., had to win four consecutive elimination games in one day just to qualify for the Pony League World Series, so the players for the East Zone champion are in a familiar and comfortable spot – in the losers’ bracket playing elimination games every day.
Chesterfield County won its second elimination game in as many days Monday afternoon when it built an early three-run lead and held off host Washington, 5-2, at Lew Hays Pony Field.
Chesterfield County will play another elimination game today, against either Hilo, Hawaii, or Los Mochis, Mexico, at 3 p.m.
Playing in win-or-go-home scenarios doesn’t bother Chesterfield County, and on this day that was a must because Washington played well enough to win. The host team, however, couldn’t overcome Chesterfield’s three-run second inning and didn’t generate a hit until the fifth.
“Nothing bothers these guys,” Chesterfield County manager Jack Horner said. “We have a group of kids – seven in all – who have played world series ball before. They were on a team that went to the Mustang series a few years ago. They know what I want from them and they are willing to play until the end. They’re hard-nosed kids from good families.”
Chesterfield County forged the early 3-0 lead, then saw Washington pull to within 3-2 in the fourth. The East Zone champions tacked on single runs in the bottom of the fifth and sixth innings, and Chesterfield relief pitcher Brad Painter work out of a jam in the sixth to end Washington’s final threat.
Chesterfield starting pitcher Patrick Routtsis took a no-hitter into the fifth and struck out six. Painter, who is so solid defensively at shortstop that Horner is somewhat reluctant to use him as a pitcher, threw two shutout innings for a save.
“I felt that was the right move to make at the time,” Horner said. “We still have two or three starting pitchers left.”
Washington got its first hit of the game in the fifth, when Bobby Proudfit smacked a line-drive single up the middle. An errant pickoff throw moved pinch-runner Brett Shaver to second base, and he scored when Colton Baburich laced a one-out single to left centerfield.
A fielder’s choice grounder, Logan DeFillippo’s walk and Kyle Steele’s perfectly placed groundball over the first-base bag for a single brought home Jared Watson from second base and cut Chesterfield County’s lead to 3-2. Steele (5-for-11) won the Voytik Award given annually to Washington’s leading hitter in the World Series.
“We couldn’t get hits when we needed them,” lamented Washington manager Jay Murphy. “We didn’t have a hit until the fifth inning, but we were making contact. That’s a good team we played, and they made some nice plays defensively.”
Ryan Clawson, who capped Chesterfield County’s three-run second inning with a two-run double, singled in the bottom of the fifth and scored after a sacrifice bunt, groundout and throwing error to make the score, 4-2.
The East Zone champions made it 5-2 in the sixth as Chandler Riley hit a leadoff double to the fence in right centerfield and scored when Routsis followed with a single.
“When I looked at Washington before the game, I saw a lot of confident faces,” Horner said. “I knew they were ready to play. We had to match what they had.”
Jared Embert reached on an error and Lane Zook singled to give Washington runners on first and second with no outs in the sixth, but Painter retired the next six batters he faced, including two on strikeouts, to end the game.
Washington had a 1-2 record in three games, playing solid defense (only three errors) in each.
DeFillippo pitched a complete game against Chesterfield, scattering seven hits. In the three games, Washington pitchers issued only five walks.
“We did better than what a lot of people expected,” Murphy said. “Some people thought we wouldn’t win a game, and some thought we would get crushed in this one. We kept it close, but just couldn’t get a timely hit.
“The World Series is filled with quality teams, and we proved that we deserved to be here.”