Lawn Care records key win

By Marvin Birchfield
STAR CORRESPONDENT

   The battle for the second place in American Little League regular-season play was on the line Monday night as T & C Lawn Care came one game closer by defeating Citizens Bank 5-2.
   The win didn't come easy for T & C, as it found itself trailing 2-0 after the second frame.
   "We were able to come back after last weekend's game, but we played hard tonight, and we can still end up in second place," said T & C Lawn Care coach Bobby Collins.
   Lawn Care was able to elude disaster in the prior inning when base were loaded with just one out.
   But T & C pitcher Jeff Peters answered the challenge by striking out the next two batters.
   "He's done good all year, and if we had a couple of more like him we probably wouldn't have been beat," said Collins.
   In the second frame, a hit by Jake Hodge and a fielding error by the third baseman enabled Matthew Gouge to score Citizens' first run.
   Hodge did some nifty base running to advance himself around to third, and a dropped ball from third to the pitcher allowed another run to score.
   The Bank saw an opportunity in adding to its lead slip away in the top of the third, after a double to center field from Marcus Hill, and a hit from Hunter Peters put two-runners on base.
   T & C's defense was able to hold off the threat with the pitching and infield defense denying Citizens to score.
   "It's hard to capitalize when you're facing a pitcher as good as Jeff, along with the rest of the team," said Citizen's Bank coach Delaney Scalf.
   Citizen's decided to make a pitching change in the top of the third, as Adam Colbaugh came into replace Jeremy Hall.
   Colbaugh allowed one hit with two walks, and one run score after a wild pitch to Jarred Irick enabled Corey Miller to come home with one out.
   Peters rested on third after knocking a single to left field and stealing a couple of bases.
   "We've practiced on base-running, because that's one of the most important things in Little League," said Collins.
   But Colbaugh was able to bail out Citizens with a strikeout and a fielded bunt from Franky Covarrubias to escape the inning.
   The fourth frame wasn't so kind to Citizens, as Colbaugh struggled in controlling his throws.
   Four straight walks were committed, bringing in the tying run from Justin Pierce.
   Two more walks and a wild pitch brought in three more scores, giving T & C a three-run lead.
   "We just walked too many batters and beat ourselves," said Scalf.
   Peters stepped it up as the game went on, as he ended up by retiring 14 batters on strike-outs.
   With one final chance in the sixth, the Bank tried to make a rally. A single to center from Brandon Cole and a walk to J.D. Scalf placed two-runners on base, but the game ended on a throw from the catcher to the third-baseman with the tag-out on Scalf.
   Expert Express 15
   A-1 Auto 0
   The Expert Express moved within shouting distance of the regular season title in the American Little League play by upending A-1 Auto.
   "If we can win our next two games then we will be in good shape," said Expert Express coach Charlie Bradford.
   A-1 hung tough in the first inning, as it surrendered just one run off of a triple to right field from Aaron Bradford, scoring Shane Heaton.
   The second frame was not nearly as pleasant for A-1, which committed nine walks and giving up four hits with 11 runs scoring.
   "We're having to play five nine-year olds, and we're just a real young team right now," said A-1 Auto coach Mickey Taylor.
   Their first run came off of a hit up the middle from Brit Yelton to bring in Franky Birchfield.
   A double to left-field from Brent Thomas pushed across three runs, and the last one came across when Birchfield elected to steal home for the score.
   The Express added three more runs in the third frame, and was able to put the game to rest in the fourth with the mercy rule coming into effect.
   "We will get better as time goes on for this team won the championship last year, and we had to draft 10 new players this year so it shows," said Taylor.
   Blake Russell gave up no hits through three innings of play, and Heaton came in to retire three batters on strikeouts with one walk.
   "We've got an real experienced team, and most of our players are 12 years old, and both of our pitchers are," said Bradford.