LITTLE LEAGUE: Mets offense awakens, plates 12 runs in win

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By Metz Camfield

Two days after being no-hit by the Red Sox, the Mets’ bats exploded for 12 runs, scoring at least one run in each inning but one.

The two-day break was all the Mets needed to regroup and gain their confidence at the plate. After a scoreless opening frame, the Mets used timely hitting and fielding to beat the Cubs 12-2 on Saturday at Davenport Field.

“It’s all about the kids,” Mets manager Tommy Rice said. “I challenged them to forget about Thursday and show up against the best pitcher in the league (in Dusty Puckett). I’m proud of them, I’m at a loss for words with how they played.”

It wasn’t just the Mets offense that was on cue Saturday afternoon, but their fielding was as well. The Mets made tough catches and ground balls throughout the game, and turned a gem of a double play to begin the bottom of the sixth inning.

“As you saw Thursday, one bad error can open up the flood gates so if you can make some plays (like we did today) it keeps you in the game,” Rice said. “We had a couple big catches in the outfield and that double play was huge.”

The two performances at the plate seemed to be baseball’s rendition of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. On Thursday, the Mets didn’t record a hit and their opponent, the Red Sox, had one huge inning that seemed to snowball with hits and plays to put the game out of reach.

On Saturday, the Mets saw the ball well and had a big inning of their own that snowballed and continued to grow with hits and runs to put the game out of reach.

“I think we’re an amazing team,” said Dalton Lewis of the Mets. “We can figure out what we did wrong one game, and then comeback and fix it the next.”

The game started out innocently enough with a scoreless first inning from both teams. Lewis then stepped up to lead off the top of the second inning with a shot down the right field line. Lewis dug in and scored for an inside-the-park home run to give the Mets an early 1-0 lead. The Mets would tack on an additional run when Logan Stephens drew a walk with the bases loaded.

On the mound for the Mets, John Paul Garmon remained in command. Garmon, who said sometimes pitching is his favorite position on the diamond depending on how he’s throwing, threw the ball “great” as he said after the game. Garmon struck out four batters in 4.1 innings of work, and paired with his defense, kept the Cubs batters in check.

The Mets’ Zach Rice led off the third inning by reaching second base on an error. Rice would later take third base and home on wild pitches to give the Mets a 3-0 lead.

The Mets fought off a good Cubs scoring opportunity in the bottom of the third when the Cubs threatened with Jordan Adams on second base and Zane McCoy on third. But Garmon got the next Cubs batter to ground the ball to him and calmly threw to first base to finish the inning unscathed.

In the fourth inning, the Mets broke the game open by bringing four runs home to take a 7-0 lead. With Logan Phillips on second base, Ian Chilton hit a bomb to the gap in left-center field to bring in Phillips. With two outs in the inning and Chilton now on third base, Garmon helped his own cause by hitting a single to shallow right field. Rice then hit an RBI-double, followed by an RBI-single from Lewis to give the Mets their seventh run of the game.

“I told them to be patient,” Rice said. “We tried to get (Puckett’s) pitch count up. You’re only allowed 85 pitches so I gave some take signs. The kids had a good eye. It was hard to lay off some of the high pitches, but they were patient at the plate and it paid off. He’s the best up here.”

Rice talked to his team prior to the game about having confidence at the plate, and believing they could hit Puckett. As Rice said, when a couple players get hits, the confidence gets rolling and confidence is contagious.

Lewis and Garmon said after the game, having that confidence was the difference in the game.

“If you don’t think you can hit the ball, you might as well just sit down,” Garmon said.

The Mets put three more runs on the board in the fifth thanks to an RBI-single from Ian Chilton that scored Andrew Chilton from third base. A single later by Garmon scored Phillips and Ian Chilton.

In the bottom half of the inning, the Cubs got on the board. After drawing three walks, Adams hit a single to score Ryan Clark.

The Mets defense, with bases loaded and only out recorded, prevented any more damage occurring in the inning. A ground ball by Dylan Boone came back to Lewis, who came in to close the game on the mound. Lewis then threw home for the force out and the second out of the inning. Lewis then induced an inning-ending 4-3 ground out from the next batter.

The Mets scored two more runs in the final frame, and the Cubs scored one of their own to give the final score of 12-2.

“(The win) keeps us right up there in second place,” Rice said. “If we lose this we could drop from second to fourth going into (Sunday).”

E-mail Metz Camfield at mcamfield@theandersonnews.com.