AUBURNDALE, FLORIDA - Saturday, May 4, 2013:
Twenty-five teams made the trip in 2013 to the Homeschool World Series at Lake Myrtle Sports Complex in Auburndale, Florida. When all was said and done, the Dallas Angels managed to squeek out the championship game from the Raleigh Warriors. But one of the other big stories of the tournament was "that orange team from Houston".
On Monday, the Falcons faced cross-town rival the West Houston Thunder in the first of two pool games that would determine which teams advanced to the qualifying games for Division I and II. Senior Chase Adams started for the Falcons and pitched a solid game to cover a handful of errors in the field. Meanwhile the Falcons bats came alive, producing 12 runs over seven innings for a 7-run victory over the Thunder (Final: 12-5). The most exciting play was probably the last; with one out and a runner at third, the Thunder batter drove a ball to shallow right. Junior Brandon Walker made a diving catch, rolled over, got up, set his feet and threw a strike to home to get the runner who had tagged from third. Two outs. Game over. Mayhem.
As the Thunder had already lost their other pool play game against the St. Louis Patriots, the Falcons had automatically secured a spot for one of the Q games on Thursday. Still, it was by no means a throwaway game as a victory over the Patriots on Tuesday would have made the Falcons the 1st qualifier from its pool, meaning a higher seed going into Thursday. It wasn't meant to be. The Falcons lost. Bad. Ugly bad. 17-0 bad.
From a mountain-top high on Monday to a rock-bottom low on Tuesday, the Falcons found themselves as the last (16th) seed going into Thursday's Q-games. This meant facing the #1 seed and defending champion Ft. Worth Riders who had breezed through their own pool games giving up a single run.
Senior Chase Adams once again started on the mound for the Falcons. The Falcons scored first on a passed ball, but the Riders managed to even things up, putting runners in scoring position in every inning but the last. The Falcons scored one more run, going up 2-1 into the bottom of the seventh. Adams struck out the first two batters. When Junior Trevor Lang fielded a ground ball to 3rd and made a clean throw to first for out number three, the stands erupted. So did the players on the field. The Falcons had just defeated the defending champs and gone from the 16th seed in the Q-games to the #1 seed for Division I play. [On a side note, it was only the second loss in two years for the Riders pitcher, a major league prospect who threw a tremendous game himself.]
Back on the mountaintop, The Falcons went into the late game on Thursday to face the Richmond Patriots in the first round of Division I play. Sophomore Tyler Brockner threw a fantastic game, holding the Patriots to just three runs. Unfortunately, that was enough for the team from Virginia. The Falcons hit the ball hard, but always seemingly right at a Patriot player. The Patriots advanced on the 3-0 win. At this point, the best the Falcons could hope for would be fifth place. That would require winning both their Friday and Saturday games.
But first things first. In order to advance to a Saturday matchup for fifth or sixth place, the Falcons would need to win their Friday game against cross-town rivals the Houston (HCYA) Eagles. To this end, Coach Shelby Thomas placed the ball (and his trust) in the hands of lefty eighth-grader Christian Springfield. Springfield threw a great game, also yielding only three runs, and the Falcons would go on to prevail in a 4-3 win that would be nearly as exciting as the game against Ft. Worth. If nothing else, it secured our position as the highest finish for a Houston-area team, and would give us a shot at the fifth place spot.
High, low, high, low, high.....
You guessed it. By this point the team was pretty-well spent. A couple of early inning errors took the wind out of the Falcon sails as the Memphis Eagles put on a hitting exhibition that would end up yielding 11 runs for a lopsided 11-2 win. Fifth place went to the Eagles...sixth place for the Falcons.
All in all, it was a great tournament. We exceeded expectations, advanced to Division I for the first time in Falcons history, and finished as the sixth place team overall which, incidentally, will put us in an excellent position for 2014. Great job Falcons!