At the end of the first round of Moore League baseball, the league found itself in an unusual place: with a frontrunner. Usually there’s a few teams tied for first place, or perhaps one game separating the top three teams. This year, because Long Beach Poly started league play 6-0, the Jackrabbits ended up a full two games ahead of Wilson, Millikan, and Lakewood.
The math there was pretty simple: assuming Poly wins over the 5-7th place teams in the league, the Jackrabbits need just one win over the other three playoff teams to essentially clinch a share of the league title, and two to win it outright. Wilson tracked the Jackrabbits down and flipped the script on the league season on Friday night, handing Poly its first league defeat in a 9-2 win.
The win signals a big turnaround for a Wilson team that coaches said was somewhat dysfunctional earlier in the season.
“A lot of it has to do with the way we practice, what we emphasize as far as being a good teammate,” said Wilson coach Andy Hall. “We’ve changed things up and we’re getting some results.”
Wilson pitcher Jacob Ribitzki was sharp, with his off speed and fastball working all night. He pitched three innings of no-hit ball and scattered three hits over six innings of work, striking out five.
“We’ve just got more energy ,” said Ribitzki of his team’s turnaround. “We’re playing together–it’s made a big difference.”
After being shut out by Poly in their first meeting, Wilson struck fast in the top of the first inning. Jaylin Cannon doubled into left center and was brought in by Crixtian Tavares. The Bruins added three runs in the fourth inning with RBIs from Jack Odell, Roberto Haycox, and Alex Seguine. Hall said Seguine’s line drive RBI was representative of Wilson’s turnaround.
“I told Alex he’s pressing too much, to relax,” said Hall. “He’d been hitting it hard but right at guys. For that ball to get down was big for him, and it was big for us.”
Ryan Pettway had a three-RBI double in the sixth inning after two walks and a hit batter, putting WIlson up 9-0, with 11 hits to Poly’s one.
“I’m really proud of the way we’ve gotten up off the mat,” said Hall. “We were about left for dead after the Lakewood game.”
The Jackrabbits ended up getting RBIs from Dominic Salerno and Daniel Mariscal to get on the board in the sixth and seventh inning. The math is still simple for the Jackrabbits: a win against Lakewood or Millikan likely gives them at least a share of the league title, while a win against both would clinch it. Everything else is still up for grabs.
With Friday’s results, Poly is in first place with one league loss, followed by Lakewood/Wilson with two losses, and Millikan drops to fourth with three losses. That leaves things very much up in the air with two full weeks remaining. All possibilities are on the table including a four-way league championship where every team has three losses.
Remaining Games Among Top Four Teams
4/12: Lakewood @ Wilson, Millikan @ Poly
4/18: Wilson @ Millikan, Lakewood @ Poly