When Miles Ryan woke up at 6 a.m. Monday, all he could think about was playing more baseball.
Little did he know it would be his effort on both sides of the ball that would help the Chino Red win the 2011 AAA American Legion Wood Bat Classic over the Eagle Vipers.
The Red, hailing from Chino, Calif., took advantage of every opportunity they were given by beating the Vipers of Eagle, Idaho, a small town outside Boise, 5-1 at Gonzaga’s Patterson Complex.
After making a diving catch in the third inning, Ryan came up big at the plate in the top of the fourth, knocking in two runs on a single that went through the gap. The RBIs gave the Red, and starting pitcher Brett Early, a three-run cushion that ultimately secured the win.
“I wasn’t trying to bomb everything out (of the park), I was just trying to make contact and get a run. I wanted to get (a rally) going,” said Ryan.
And he wasn’t done.
In the bottom half of the fourth, Ryan made another outstanding diving catch for the second out.
“He is all out, he plays 100 miles per hour. He doesn’t understand anything less than that,” said Chino coach Charlie Reynoso of Ryan. “Miles is one of those guys that you love to coach because he doesn’t really think a lot, he just reacts and that makes him the good player he has become.”
Eagle, winners over the Bellingham Post 7 in the semifinals, put plenty of pressure on Early in the game’s first innings, but the starting pitcher always managed to squeeze out of the jams he created.
In the first inning the Vipers had runners on first and second, but first baseman Brandon Martinez grounded out. They loaded the bases in the second only to come away empty handed once again. It wasn’t until the third inning when Eagle finally put one on the board thanks to an RBI single by Spencer Gothberg.
“(Early) tends to have trouble in the first inning in a lot of games. He is always shaky because he gets mentally emotional going into games, so sometimes he has trouble controlling it. But once he can grab a hold of it he’s good,” said Reynoso.
And grab a hold of it he did, as Early finished a complete game allowing five hits and one run while striking out seven. The Gothberg single was the last hit, and baserunner, allowed by Early.
“We’re just really happy that we came here (to Spokane) and really happy that we played so well,” said Reynoso. “The whole team has been better than years past because they’re playing well together, getting along and having fun.”
The Red, who beat the Spokane Blue Devils 8-0 in the earlier semifinal held at Whitworth, were very aggressive on the base paths. They had six stolen base attempts and were only caught once – a botched attempt at stealing home.
Eagle starting pitcher Brandon Brown given the task of shutting down Chino’s offense on the mound and igniting the Vipers’ offense by batting cleanup. Brown finished 2 for 3 with a double but struggled on the mound.
He was pulled in the bottom half of the sixth after he issued his eighth walk of the game. He was also called for two balks. He pitched 52/3 innings, giving up four runs and striking out five.
Regina wins AA title
After scoring five runs in the first inning and forcing the Bitterroot Red Sox to pull their starting pitcher, the Regina Athletics won the AA American Legion Wood Bat Classic 5-4.
In the seventh inning the Red Sox had the go-ahead run on base with only one out, but the next two batters struck out to give Regina the championship.