After a disappointing 3-2 loss to defending American Legion World Series champion Idaho Falls, Idaho, in its Thursday ALWS opener, Midland, Mich., Post 165 was determined to bounce back on Saturday against Beverly, Mass., Post 331.
Battling through a lightning delay and light rain on Saturday at Keeter Stadium at Veterans Field in Shelby, N.C., Midland did just that in a 6-3 victory.
"This hopefully sparks us a little bit and we come out and play good again tomorrow," Midland coach Dan Cronkright said.
The wins by Midland and earlier Saturday by Dubuque County, Iowa, set up a "win and you're in" situation for both games in the Stripes Division of pool play on Sunday.
Dubuque County plays Midland at 1 p.m. and Beverly plays Idaho Falls at 7 p.m. The winners will advance to Monday's semifinals.
After a 30-minute delay due to a nearby lightning strike on Saturday, Midland and Beverly each scored two runs in the second inning and one each in the third before the designated visitors from Midland took the lead for good in what proved to be a decisive fourth-inning rally.
Midland scored three times — all with two outs — to account for the final 6-3 margin. Five of Midland’s six runs came with two out.
Shortstop Griffin Clark's two-run triple was the big hit in the fourth-inning rally and he would later score on Avain Rivera's RBI single.
Earlier, Nolan Sanders and Al Money had back-to-back two-out RBI singles in the second inning for Midland.
"We just couldn't ever slam the door on them," Cronkright said of Beverly, which left the bases loaded in the third and two runners aboard in the fifth and seventh innings.
Three Midland pitchers and defense helped keep Beverly off the scoreboard.
Starter D.J. Thompson and relievers Brody Krzysiak and Lane Kloha combined on a six-hitter with five strikeouts; Krzysiak went three scoreless innings for the victory and Kloha two scoreless innings for the save.
Three defensive gems stood out for Midland.
Rightfielder Rivera caught a fly ball and threw out a runner at third base in the fourth to complete a double play. Catcher Alex Warner turned a sacrifice bunt attempt into a forceout at third base. And, to end the game, left fielder Derek Beougher's throw to cutoff third baseman Money was turned into an out at home plate by catcher Warner.
"Our defense is pretty good," Cronkright said. "That's something we rely on."
Clark (two hits, two RBIs), Rivera (two hits, one RBI) and Sanders (two hits, one RBI) led Midland's offense. And for Beverly, Brennan Frost had two hits.