Columbia SC 8, Taylorsville 5
ALTON, Ill. — Manager Travis Ewing desperately hoped to avoid an opening game loss in the 2000 American Legion World Series on Friday afternoon at Hopkins Field.
But even after the Taylorsville (Utah) Warriors suffered an 8-5 defeat to Columbia (S.C.) Richland in National Division pool play, Ewing saw no cause for panic.
"If we take care of business the next couple of days," Ewing said, "this is basically like a mulligan."
With the top two teams from each four-team pool advancing to Monday's medal round, the 37-5 Warriors can remain in the title hunt with a victory over Brooklawn (N.J.) at 10 a.m. Saturday. Richland (34-4) meets Texas City (Texas) Saturday evening.
Taylorsville got to Richland starter Brandon Roberts for three runs on four hits in the top of the fourth inning to take a 3-1 lead. But Richland answered immediately, manufacturing four runs on just two hits to take a lead it would not relinquish.
"When somebody scores on us and makes a threat, we normally respond the very next inning," Richland manager David Knowles said. "We can score runs when we need to." Richland extended its lead to 8-3 in the sixth, with catcher Randy Causey's two-run double providing the crucial blow in a three-run inning that chased Taylorsville starter Brad Burrow (7-1).
The Warriors infield committed errors on three consecutive groundballs, giving Richland a run off reliever Cody Smith.
"We just didn't make an adjustment to what the guy is doing," Ewing said of Richland's Roberts, who improves to 9-0. "Balls on the outside part of the plate and we're trying to yank it to left field. You just can't do that. We kick a few balls when we make a pitching change. Just things like that.
"You're not going to beat good teams if you don't come to play. When you get to this level of play, they're all good teams, you can't afford to do the things we did today and expect to win," he added.
Lance Laury, Anthony Carbone and Randy Causey each had two hits for Richland. Causey had three RBIs while Laury, who had two doubles, drove in two runs. Taylorsville threatened in the eighth inning, when Chris Mower's two-run homer drew the Warriors within 8-5.
"It was a little spark, but it was too late," Mower said. "When you get down to a good team like that South Carolina team, it's tough to come back."
But Taylorsville threatened. Curt Bowen, Matt Shepherd and Weston Reynolds followed Mower's homer with singles to load the bases, but Roberts escaped further damage by retiring leadoff hitter Andy Swanson on a pop-up to shortstop.
"It was not one of our better outings today," said Ewing, whose team had to rebound from an early loss to win its region. "And we did this the first game of the regional. We came out and laid an egg in the first game, and we bounced back from there.
"From that point, I'm not that discouraged. But it would be nice to not have to battle out of a hole always. We made a tough road for ourselves. We can't afford to have any more bad performances now. We have no margin for error. We have to get after it or we're going to be going home."