World Series over for Squirrels following 13-1 loss
EPHRATA, Wash. -- A year ago, the Charleston Fighting Squirrels were within two games of moving into the Senior Babe Ruth World Series title game.
A year later, the Alabama Rawdogs weren't in the mood to have a close game with the Squirrels.
The Rawdogs, the defending World Series champions, sent the Squirrels home to Missouri with a memory that Charleston faithful would probably rather forget. Alabama got off to a quick start en route to a 13-1 win over the Squirrels.
The loss was in the final game of pool play at the series, being played in north central Washington state at Ephrata's Johnson-O'Brien Stadium. By finishing 0-4 in their division, the Squirrels finish the summer season at 40-20-1.
Last summer in Andalusia, Alab., the Squirrels went 2-2 in their division and qualified for the tournament quarterfinals, but were eliminated by the Rawdogs in a 2-1 loss. Fast forward to 2014, and Monday in Ephrata, where the Rawdogs pounded out 16 hits to two for Charleston.
It was the trend of the week for the Squirrels, who managed just 14 hits in their four-game stay at the series.
"We didn't hit the ball all week. The pitching here has been a notch above anything we saw all year long," said Charleston manager Michael Minner. "When you get behind in a ballgame, it can be tough to use the small game to get going again.
"It's hard to get up and come to the ballpark when you're 0-3 and you know you're done," Minner continued. "We managed to use all the younger kids today so they'd have a chance to play. For us to only be done 5-1 early in the ballgame was a testimony to our kids."
The Rawdogs only needed two hits in the first inning to open a 3-0 lead, padding their offense with two Charleston errors. A walk and three singles led to two more runs in the second frame, putting the Rawdogs up 5-0.
The Squirrels' lone run came in the fourth inning when Chad Payne of Chaffee walked, got to second base on a groundout, moved to third on a passed ball and scored on a balk. The Dogs then put the game out of reach into the top of the seventh inning, sending 14 hitters to plate to put up eight runs on eight hits.
Despite the less-than-stellar week of play, Minner said his team had a great week in Ephrata.
"It's been an incredible stay. This is a beautiful area, and the Columbia Basin baseball organization is first class--we're going to be better people for having come here," he said. "We probably just got stuck in the wrong pool, but those are the breaks. Had we been on the other side, we might have won a couple of games.
"We've got guys back home calling us to play next summer with our team, and we return the core of the team. We're going to lose some key guys, but I think we're going to bounce back," Minner added. "We try to get the kids to put on the Superman cape and believe they can win every game. But we learned this week that when you can't hit and the defense goes south, you can't win."