The College Station Major Baseball All-Star Team grabbed a 7-0 victory over Smithville on Monday at Bachmann Park. The matchup wasn’t as stressful as its first two games, but there was nothing easy about the host squad staying alive.
Smithville, which lost 16-0 to Western Hills in its first Little League Section 1 game Sunday night, was boosted by the return of its best player, Valentin Regalado, who spent the weekend with his summer team.
The 5-foot-10, 185-pound Regalado struck out three CS batters in 15 pitches for an impressive start to the game. College Station didn’t give Regalado a chance to build on that momentum in the bottom half of the inning by intentionally walking him with a runner on second base. The move nearly backfired when Smithville’s Kaleb Corona walked to load the bases, but College Station pitcher Zeke Bullard bounced back with a strikeout.
College Station grabbed control in the second inning by scoring three runs without even putting the ball in play. The first three batters — Bullard, Erich Glenewinkel and Cannon Kieschnick – all walked, part of five free passes issued by Regalado, who threw 40 pitches in the inning. Regalado, along with the walks, uncorked five wild pitches in the frame. CS scored its first two runs on wild pitches with a third run coming across when Smithville threw the ball away trying to get the second runner.
College Station made it 4-0 when leadoff hitter Colton Haas grounded out to first. Haas was the first CS batter to put the ball in play against Regalado, who said his fastball has been clocked at 76 mph. Regalado, who plays for the Austin Horns’ 11 & Under team, threw three innings, laboring through 72 pitches. He struck out seven, allowing only one hit, a slow roller his fielder didn’t charge, allowing the batter to beat the throw.
College Station was able to gain the upper hand because Bullard and relief pitcher Madden Hurd threw more strikes and they were complemented by solid defense.
Bullard struck out seven and walked three, hitting one batter. Fellow right-hander Hurd struck out five of the first six batters he faced in 3 1/3 innings with no walks and he too hit a batter.
College Station, which dropped a 3-1 game late to Western Hills in the tournament’s opener and held on for an 8-7 victory over Bellville on Sunday, got some breathing room with three runs in the fifth against Smithville.
College Station’s first four batters – Andrew Elko, Wilson Stapp, Bullard and Glenewinkel – strung together singles. Stapp had College Station’s lone hit before the inning. Elko went to third on Stapp’s single and scored on a throwing error on the play to make it 5-0. Bullard knocked in Stapp and Hurd’s sacrifice fly ended the scoring.
Third baseman Stapp had a pair of nice defensive plays in the sixth. CS catcher Thomas Herring threw out Regalado trying to steal third in the third. Regalado singled sharply to left field in the inning for the team’s only hit until Corona singled with two outs in the sixth.
Smithville put only three balls in play in the first five innings. Smithville had a couple defensive hiccups, but did catch three fly balls and two popups.
Regalado last week won T-Mobile’s six-state regional Little League Home Run Derby in Smithville with 33 homers to advance to the West Home Run Derby finals at T-Mobile Park in Seattle on July 28 before the Tigers-Mariners game.
Regalado was the second impressive two-way player College Station faced in the tournament. Western Hills’ Evan Lung led his team to a 3-1 victory in the opener as the 5-8, 120-pounder pitched 2 1/3 scoreless innings and belted a two-run homer in the fifth inning to break a tie game.
Western Hills remained unbeaten in the five-team tournament with a 7-0 victory over Lufkin on Monday night in the winners’ bracket final. Lufkin will play College Station at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the losers’ bracket final.