Pitching on two days' rest and maximizing every ounce of his 135-pound frame, left-hander Branden Powell showed again Tuesday that he is one of the best pitchers at the 16-year-old Babe Ruth World Series.
Powell struck out 10 batters, including five of the final seven, as Mid-County, Tex., defeated Columbia Basin, Wash., 6-0, at Fireman's Field. The shutout came after a 17-strikeout, four-hit outing Saturday in Mid-County's opening 10-2 victory over Northern Fairfax.
"My team asked me to come through. I've done it before, and I knew I could do it again," Powell said.
Said Mid-County Manager Jeremy Grant: "He's our go-to kid, there's no doubt about it. If he tells me his arm feels good, I give him the ball."
Powell needed very little run support Tuesday; he has not been scored upon in 131/3 innings. But Mid-County (2-2) scored twice in the first, once in the fourth and three times in the sixth. The big hit in the sixth came when pinch hitter Derrick Coleman pulled a double down the right field line to drive in two runs.
Powell's tournament may not be done. Mid-County seemed to have a good chance to advance to the single-elimination rounds; the final seedings were determined after the completion of pool play yesterday, which ended too late to be included in this edition.
"I'll be good to go whenever they call on me," Powell said.
Mobile's McMillan in Full Swing
Will McMillan was the only player from Mobile, Ala., who had been hitting the ball well before Tuesday. His teammates finally joined him in an 11-1, six-inning victory over Mineral Area, Mo., but McMillan still provided the big blast.
In the sixth inning, McMillan drove the ball over the scoreboard beyond the right-center field fence for a three-run home run. It was part of a six-run outburst for Mobile, which had been limited to six runs total in its three previous games.
"It felt great. We need some kind of spark, and we got it," said McMillan, who's batting .538 (7 for 13) in the World Series. "I was just fortunate enough to be the one to get it."
The offensive awakening and much-needed victory may have invigorated Mobile's chances in the tournament. The team was guaranteed a berth in the single-elimination rounds that begin today; its seeding was determined after yesterday's games.
"We're actually just trying to have some fun. . . . It was a fresh start today," McMillan said.
Added Manager Darwin Murph: "They're pumped after today. We feel like we're on a roll now."
Playing It Close
Even though the tournament began under the threat of Hurricane Charley-related bad weather, the rain was not much of a factor, and only two games Saturday and Sunday were legitimately lopsided.
Five of the first seven games of the World Series were decided by one run, including four in a row between Greater Loudoun's 2-1 victory late Saturday night over Mobile and a 4-3 win for Columbia Basin, Wash., against Northern Fairfax on Sunday evening. . . .
Beechmont, Ky., would have to qualify as the hard-luck loser over the weekend. First, Ryan Cole's run-scoring double in the bottom of the sixth inning gave Syracuse, N.Y., a 9-8 win over Beechmont on Saturday. And after taking a 3-1 lead midway through its game Sunday, Beechmont was undone when Mobile scored three unanswered runs for a 4-3 victory.
By the Numbers
81.3 Percent of the runs scored by Bakersfield, Calif., that have come in the team's final three at-bats. Bakersfield scored five in the fifth through seventh innings in each of its first two games and three more Monday; the team had scored 16 runs overall through Monday. The most dramatic late-inning surge came Sunday against Mid-County, when Fabian Rivera ended the game with a three-run double, giving Bakersfield a 6-5 win.
-- DREW VANESSELSTYN