Caleb Phillips literally took matters into his own hands Saturday night at the American Legion World Series.
Phillips pitched effectively through 7 2/3 innings and had two big hits to lead Eden Prairie, Minn., past the Oklahoma Outlaws of Midwest City, Okla., 9-6 in the late winners’ bracket game at Avista Stadium.
Eden Prairie (37-7) takes on Las Vegas (48-15) tonight at about 8. Midwest City (62-10) faces Kernersville (N.C.) in an elimination game at 5.
Phillips (9-1) staked himself to a lead in the first inning with a two-out, two-run single.
“Usually when I pitch I don’t hit well,” Phillips said. “But tonight was probably my best combination of pitching and hitting ever. I felt really good and everything was working.”
In the third, Eden Prairie went ahead 3-0 when Tony Skjefte banged an RBI triple off the right-field wall. Skjefte scored moments later on a wild pitch for a 4-0 lead.
The Outlaws got their first run in the sixth on a single by Alex Polston.
Eden Prairie chased left-handed starter Chris Mullins, who entered the game with a team-leading 14-0 record, in the sixth when Blake Schmit extended the lead to 6-1 with a two-run double.
In the top of the seventh, it appeared the Outlaws had a big inning in the making when their first two batters reached on walks. Pinch hitter Dakota Andrews then hit a ball to the gap between the center and right fielders. But Eden Prairie center fielder Tim Miller got to the ball, threw to Skjefte, the second baseman, whose relay to catcher Matt Halloran was in time to get Tanner Hessman. The play was immediately ruled dead by the home plate umpire, who ejected Hessman for mowing over Halloran.
That sent runners back to first and second. But Phillips coaxed a well-executed double play.
“The defense is great,” Phillips said. “They’ve been there all year.”
After the defense got him out of the jam in the seventh, Phillips promptly put his team ahead 7-1 in the bottom of the inning when he hit a solo homer.
Midwest City didn’t quit, though. The Outlaws scored five runs in the ninth.