Rust nor pitching control issues surfaced for Central Point pitcher Dylan Pearce in Sunday's American Legion A Northwest Regional contest against the best team the Comets had seen this year by far.
Pearce tossed 81/3 innings to solidify the Comets' spot in the tournament's championship with a 9-6 victory against the Laurel (Mont.) Dodgers in Wheatland, Wyo.
"He came out and was lights out," said Comets coach Jay Campbell of Pearce. "He hasn't thrown for us in quite a while and had been battling control problems at the mound. But he was able to locate and keep up his velocity even into the ninth inning.
"Him being able to throw like that today allows us not to have to burn another pitcher with a couple days still left in the tournament."
That couple of days could be a much different feel for the Comets than last week's state title run, where they had to stave off elimination and beat an undefeated Roseburg Pepsi team twice on the final day for the crown.
As the Northwest Regional tournament's only undefeated squad after beating previously spotless Laurel, the Comets could ride into Tuesday's championship as the team that would have to be beaten twice. But to do so, Central Point has to derail the Anchorage (Alaska) Post 4s today.
After Pearce left with one out in the ninth inning, Ty Fox recorded the final two but not before getting one final challenge from the Dodgers.
After Fox picked up a strikeout to record the second out of the frame, the Comets intentionally walked perhaps the tournament's hottest hitter in the Dodgers' Dakota Cortese, who had already hit a home run in the game and fourth in three games in the tournament.
Pitching around Cortese, however, loaded the bases for the Dodgers, who only faced a three-run deficit.
Fox, however, got the final batter to fly out to the infield. The official call for the out was batter interference as the batter tossed his bat in the direction of Comets catcher Tyler Aplin.
"It's a huge win for the kids against the best team we've seen by far," said Campbell. "Our kids have been resilent. There's a lot of pressure and our kids our handling it."
Joey Caballero's second successful drag bunt single of the game gave the Comets their fourth run of the seventh because of the hustle of Ty Plankenhorn, who scored on the play all the way from second base.
"It was kind of a 'Plankenhorn was on his horse and I didn't stop him,'" said Campbell. "The second baseman double-clutched it and threw wide of the catcher. That was a big play in the game."
Caballero also stole two bases while Gunnar Asher went 3-for-4 with a run scored and an RBI. Fox, Paul Turner and Taylor Tibbets finished with two hits each.
Pearce, who struck out eight, improved to 5-2 at the mound.
Today's game, slated for 4 p.m. Pacific time, can viewed at www.wheatlandradio.com.
Laurel (Mont.) Dodgers 000 100 131 — 6 6 5
Central Point Comets 210 010 41x — 9 12 5
Cortese, Cannon (6) and O'Donnell; Pearce, Fox (9) and Aplin. W — Pearce (5-2). L — Cortese. 2B — L: Golden; CP: Fox. HR — L: Cortese.