By EARL WATT
• Leader & Times
For many, it was a long drive to Liberal, but there appeared to be no road weariness from the players or the fans Friday night at Brent Gould Field in the first round of the Babe Ruth 13-and-under Midwest Regional Tournament.
On the field, in the dugouts and in the stands, the excitement of playing for a trip to the national tournament could be seen, and after the first day the dream was still alive for all eight teams, but four teams would be facing an uphill battle.
Moorhead, Minn., 7, Parsons 2
Moorhead, Minn., was the first to score a victory at the tournament with a 7-2 win over Parsons, Kan. Minnesota jumped out to an early 5-2 lead, and the defense took over to secure the win.
Tanner Bouton earned the WOW Award for Minnesota, and Luke Wolgamott won the WOW for Kansas. Noah Pilon was awarded the MVP for Minnesota while Jaden Ponce was the MVP for Kansas.
West Fargo, N.D., 16, Lamar, Colo., 0
West Fargo, N.D., set the stage as the team to beat in the tournament with a dominating 16-0 win over Lamar, Colo., on the first day of action.
Andy Gravdahl earned the WOW Award for North Dakota, and Zadyran Perez won the WOW for Colorado. Garrett Levine was North Dakota’s MVP, and Joshua Baca earned the MVP for Colorado.
Boone, Iowa, 7, Scottsbluff, Neb., 2
Boone, Iowa used defense to slow down Scottsbluff, Neb., for a 7-2 win. Iowa advanced in the winner’s bracket while Nebraska had to fight off elimination Saturday.
Iowa’s MVP was Spencer Turner, and the WOW Award was given to Bret Price. Jeremiah Delzer was the MVP for Nebraska, and Connor McCracken earned the WOW Award.
The host Cimarron River Rattlers couldn’t have asked for a better start to their opening game against Boonville, Mo., but it was the finish that left the Rattlers disappointed in a 13-6 loss.
After Alex ‘Poppy’ Yanez threw a three-p, three-down first inning, the Rattlers sent 10 batters to the plate in the bottom of the inning and took a 4-0 lead.
Three times the Rattlers loaded the bases in the inning, and after scoring four runs with no outs had the bases loaded before recording three straight out to end the threat.
Missouri scored a run in the top of the second to narrow the gap to 4-1, but the Rattlers regained the four-run lead by loading the bases for the fourth time and scoring a run on a walk.
The Rattlers led 5-1, but they left six runners stranded in the first two innings.
Those missed opportunities started to haunt the Rattlers as Missouri began to chip away at the lead.
Missouri took advantage of fielding errors by the Rattlers in the third inning to score two runs and cut the Rattler lead to 5-3.
The Rattlers had a chance to add a run in the third, but a baserunner left third early on a sacrifice fly and was called out on appeal.
The Rattlers did add a run in the fourth but left two more runners on base.
Missouri erased the three-run deficit in the fifth on three hits an two Rattler errors. By the time the Rattlers stopped the bleeding, Yanez had been replaced by Dylan Thompson, and the Rattlers trailed 7-6.
While the Rattler offense struggled the rest of the night, Missouri heated up.
Thompson struggled to find his location in the sixth, and three straight walks forced Rattler coach Kyle Potts to swith to Elijah McCarter. Missouri belted out three hits in the next four at-bats, and the Rattlers struggled in the field behind McCarter. Missouri added six more runs to take a 13-6 lead, and Potts then put Jett Brown on the mound with only one out in the sixth. Brown struggled early, beaning a batter and walking the next before recording the final two outs of the inning without giving up another run.
But the Rattler offense appeared to be shell-shocked and could not take advantage of a lead-off runner reaching first.
Brown walked the first three batters in the seventh, but one was caught stealing, and Brown recorded two more outs to hold the score at 13-6.
In their final at-bat, all three Rattlers struck out to end the game with the loss.
Missouri’s Trae Williams earned MVP honors while Kellen Brownfield took the WOW Award.
Jett Brown earned the WOW Award for the Rattlers, and Elijah McCarter was the MVP.
The second round started Saturday, and two teams were eliminated.