Johnny Olmstead pitched a brilliant six-inning complete game and Hayden Schott socked a pair of home runs, including a first-inning grand slam, as the Newport Beach Bat Rays U-12 travel baseball team overcame three deficits to beat the South Jersey Titans, 14-9, to reach the celebrated Sweet 16 of the 104-team Cooperstown Classic on Wednesday at Cooperstown Dreams Park in New York.
The Bat Rays, who are 7-1 in the national tournament, advanced to the Round of 32 earlier Wednesday with a 22-10 win over the Mt. Kisco (N.Y.) Chiefs. The Bat Rays will play in the Sweet 16 in the final day of the tournament on Thursday.
In their victory over Mt. Kisco, the Bat Rays slugged eight home runs, including two by Shawn Nielsen, who also added a grand slam. Bat Rays catcher Caleb Ricketts launched a two-run walk-off home run in the victory that ended early because of a 12-run mercy rule.
The Bat Rays also received home runs from Nolan Dunn, Ryan Aleman, Ethan Barnes, Schott and Olmstead.
In a thrilling Round of 32 nightcap, Olmstead struck out nine in a 123-pitch performance against the South Jersey Titans, who entered the game ranked sixth in the tournament. Schott hit a three-run home run, in addition to his grand slam, while Alden Burton-Fowler and Dunn also homered for the Bat Rays. Dunn has nine home runs in the tournament to pace Newport Beach.
"This is the most exciting baseball game I've been a part of in seven years of coaching," Newport Beach Bat Rays Head Coach Dan Cummins said, following his team's win. The game was tied three times, the last 9-9, before the Bat Rays rallied for a third time.
Cummins said he left the decision to leave Olmstead in the game, despite the high pitch count, up to the pitcher's father and Bat Rays assistant coach Sam Olmstead. Johnny Olmstead appeared to get stronger as the game continued in the late innings. It ended on a play at third base in which Ricketts fired a strike to Burton-Fowler, who tagged a South Jersey runner out trying to advance on a wild pitch.
"It was the best throw I've ever made," Ricketts said.
In the doubleheader sweep, the Bat Rays were also paced by Tanner Ivey's fine play at second base, as well as solid contributions from Clay Liolios, Mac Briggs and Corbin Vaicek.
— Reader submission