Game 3
7 vs. Midwest 3

Friday, August 19, 2005
8:00PM ET
Volunteer Stadium

Mighty Maitland rides Bichette to opening win
Dante Bichette Jr. and Co. earn come-from-behind victory against Williamsport veterans from Davenport

By Mark Rogoff

With a full moon in the sky and an inferno on the mound, the Maitland mites of the Southeast region didn’t seem to mind the dandy veterans from Davenport.

Dante Bichette Jr. tossed a complete game, scored the go-ahead run on a bad throw after a wild pitch in the fifth, and crushed a three-run homer in the sixth to put the game out of reach, as the Southeast champs from Maitland, Florida picked up a 7-3 win over Davenport, Iowa.

Facing a team with a pair of 12-year-olds who played in last year’s South Williamsport tourney – Brody Grothus and Kyle Franklin – didn’t faze Bichette. In fact, the righthander wasn’t even aware Davenport was sporting the returning players.

“I didn’t even know they were here last year,” said Bichette. “I just threw the way I normally throw.”

The righthander was virtually unhittable after being touched by a Ryan Shumaker three-run homer in the first. He allowed the first three batters he faced to reach and then retired 12 of the next 14 batters, striking out the side in the first and third innings.

Bichette allowed only two hits the rest of the way after the home run, one after the first inning.

“I kept my composure very well,” he said. “I was able to settle down by taking deep breaths. I kept pitches in the spots I wanted them to be. I did a pretty good job out there.”

Maitland trailed 3-2 going in the fifth, when Max Moroff and Bichette led things off with back-to-back base hits.  After two quick outs, they both advanced a base on a wild pitch during Lee Dunnam's at-bat.  Then on another wild pitch, Moroff scored from third and Bichette advanced to third.  The throw to the plate from catcher Austin Smith got by the covering Shumaker, allowing Bichette to score as well to put his team up 4-3.

He then had to work himself out of trouble in the bottom of the fifth with the 4-3 lead.

He walked the first two hitters, and then got a force out at second on Spencer Malonee’s fielder’s choice grounder. After Malonee advanced to second on a defensive indifference, Bichette threw a wild pitch past catcher Kyle Hamner. Davenport’s Eric Weiman, who led off the inning, tried to score, but Hamner threw a strike to Bichette at the plate for the tag. Shumaker then grounded to third for the final out with the tying run at third.

“That was the pivotal point in the game in my opinion,” said Davenport skipper Jeff Mallonee. “[Eric] just misjudged it. And that’s one of the best defensive catchers you’ll see out here. He is a great baserunner. We just got an unlucky bounce. I don’t regret him going.”

After five innings of play, the one-run game quickly became a four-run contest in the top of the sixth. Shumaker had runners on first and second with two outs and a 3-2 count on Bichette before giving up the blast that went over the wall in right-center field.

Shumaker was pulled from the game after the homer in favor of Franklin, who got Skip Kovar to line out to right for the inning’s final out.

Shumaker had allowed a run in the top of the first and escaped a bigger inning by getting Tanner Stanley to pop out to shortstop Grothus in shallow left field with the bases loaded.

That momentum parlayed into the bottom of the first, when Shumaker hit a towering three-run homer down the left field line after Grothus doubled to lead off and Mallonee walked.

Kovar, who belted a pair of home runs in the Southeast regional tournament, cut the deficit to 3-2 in the third with a solo homer on a 2-2 offering from Shumaker.

“We have been down two runs seven or eight times in our nine wins,” said Maitland manager Sid Cash. “The fifth inning is kind of our inning. We just felt very good about our chances. Our hitting usually takes over.”

That hitting will next appear Saturday evening against the Mid-Atlantic champs from Newtown, PA. Davenport, meanwhile, takes Saturday off before returning to action Sunday against Hawaii.

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