OTTAWA —The game of baseball is about grabbing and holding ono the lead, but there are times where a club needs to counter an opponent's rally with one of its own.
That was the case for the Ottawa Police PBPA Unit #18 White Sox against the Ottawa Elks Lodge #588 Mets during Friday night's Ottawa Little League 9-10 City Tournament championship game here at Varland Park on Ottawa's south side.
The Mets (7-11) scored a pair of runs in the top of the first, but the White Sox (12-4) answered with three of their own in the bottom of the frame, then added four more in the fourth and two more in the fifth to eventually earn a 9-3 victory.
White Sox starter and winning pitcher Grady Sandor (4 IP, 2 ER, 4 H, 2 BB, 8 K) combined with reliever Connor Baker (2 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 0 BB, 3 K) on the four-hitter.
"That was an exciting game," said White Sox manager Jake McCullough. "These kids have answered back all year long ... every time we have been down, they find a way to rally back. It was a big key to get those three runs in the first after the Mets put two on the board to start."
The White Sox finished the Ottawa National League regular season in third place, but upset the first-place Astros in the semifinals. The Mets placed last in the ledger, but won three consecutive games to reach the final contest.
"The Mets are easily the most improved team in this league from the start of the season," added McCullough. "After the top of the first, it was kind of like, 'Uh oh', but Grady and Connor both did a great job pitching, and we hit the ball pretty well all through the lineup."
The Mets started fast with Grady Dose leading off the game with a single and moving to third on a double down the left-field line by Breckin Winter. Then with one out, lefty Landon Mangold smacked an opposite-field double to score both runners and give the visitors a quick 2-0 lead.
The White Sox answered quickly as Baker and Blake Schiltz singled around a walk to Kaden Chalus, with Schiltz's hit driving in a tally and the other two runs scoring on wild pitches to make it 3-2.
"I'm very comfortable being the leadoff hitter," said Baker, who finished the night 3-for-3 and stole a pair of bases. "My job is to get on base anyway I can, and that's what I try and do every game. I knew I was going to pitch tonight, but I just wasn't sure what inning. Once I came into pitch, I just wanted to throw strikes and help us keep the lead.
"This is so exciting."
The Mets' Reed McGrath, who had come on to pitch in the first and fanned seven in four innings, held the White Sox at bay for the next two innings. In the top of the fourth, Mangold reached on an error to start the inning and came around to tie the score at 3-3 after three errant pitches.
"We started off very strong, and we were playing a very tough team," said Mets manager Kevin McGrath. "(The White Sox) are so strong — batting, pitching, really all-around — we knew we were going to have a battle. I was hoping Landon would be able to go the first couple innings and then we would bring in Reed for the final few innings, but it just didn't work out.
"I think the turnaround since the tournament started was the kids were comfortable at their spots. We rotated them around during the season, but then put them in the positions we felt they were strongest, their strengths during the season. I also think they started to show competitiveness ... they got a little bug in them and wanted to win."
The White Sox opened the fourth with a 1-2 single to left-center by Sandor and a full-count RBI base hit to right from Logan Cottingham. Following an out, Luke McCullough had a bunt single ahead of Cam Totten's run-scoring base hit which gave the Sox a 7-4 advantage. Baker's double opened the fifth before hits from Schiltz and Sandor to put the final two runs on the scoreboard.
"I know a lot of the guys on the Mets, and I've played on teams with them before," said Sandor. "They have some really good hitters, so I knew that I had to throw harder and hit my spots against those guys.
"I was getting a little tired there at the end, but (winning the championship) feels as good as I thought it would."
In the city's third-place game, McDonald's Astros beat the Handy Foods Blue Jays 8-2. Rory Moore was 3-for-3 at the plate and pitched the complete game on the mound for the Astros. Sawyer Ernat and Austin Barnes-Underwood each provided two hits.
At Varland Park, Ottawa
White Sox 9, Mets 3
METS (3) — Dose 3-1-2-0, Winter 3-1-1-0, McGrath 3-0-0-0, Mangold 2-1-1-2, Schieve 2-0-0-0, Grieves 2-0-0-0, Williams 1-0-0-0, Anderson 1-0-0-0, Lemmer 2-0-0-0, Osenkarski 2-0-0-0, Gaumer 2-0-0-0. Totals 23-3-4-2.
WHITE SOX (9) — Baker 3-2-3-0, Chalus 2-1-0-0, Schiltz 3-2-2-1, Phillips 2-0-0-0, Sandor 3-1-2-0, Cottingham 3-1-2-1, Fleming 2-0-0-0, McCullough 2-1-1-0, Totten 2-1-2-1, Siebert 2-0-0-0, Jones 2-0-0-0, McEmery 1-0-0-0. Totals 27-9-12-3.
Mets (7-11) 200 100 — 3 4 3
White Sox (12-4) 300 42x — 9 12 1
LOB — Mets 4, White Sox 5. 2B — Winter, Mangold, Baker. SB — Mangold, Williams, Baker 2, Schiltz, Cottingham, McCullough, Totten 2.
Mets ip r er h bb k
Mangold 0+ 3 3 2 1 0
McGrath (L) 4.2 7 6 9 1 7
Dose 0.1 0 0 1 1 0
Sandor (W) 4.0 3 2 4 2 8
Baker 2.0 0 0 0 0 3