Typically, Sterling Coburn takes a bit to get things going when he is on the mound.
From the first pitch Saturday, the right-hander had everything dialed in.
Coburn scattered five hits, walked two and struck out 11 in his 86-pitch effort spanning 5 2/3 innings, as West 2nd Street Market came away with a 5-2 majors victory against top-seeded Team Pepsi in little league city championship action at Kramer Field.
“It was scary at first, but once I got into the groove of it, it was good,” Coburn said. “I just hit my spots, outside and inside, and I had faith in my defense, knowing that I can let them hit the ball and they would make the plays to get them out. It feels pretty rewarding to win. It is nice way to finish my career.”
In the first two innings, Coburn retired six of the first eight batters he faced, four on strikeouts, and from the fourth through sixth innings recorded seven outs in a row but gave up consecutive singles to Jonah Ofisa and Carson Ramsay.
Ahead 5-2 in the sixth with one out and the tying run at the plate, Coburn got his final strikeout for the second out of the sixth but had to exit due to pitch count.
Avery Schwartz then induced a game-clinching groundout to Coburn at first base to pick up the save.
“To watch Avery, Sterling, Trey (Hodges) and Matt Ladoux, come together every day ready to play, it was really neat to see that chemistry continuously built. In these last two games, they probably played their best two games of the year.”
Sawyer Dray gave 2nd Street Market a 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning with a two-out, two-run single to score Schwartz and Coburn, and Schwartz plated Luke Hoover and Evan Ortega on a two-run triple to deep right centerfield, which made it 4-0 through two and a half innings.
“I thought we started off good with our warmups,” Schwartz said. “It got us focused and ready to play in the first inning to get on top of them.”
Pepsi inched back to a 4-2 deficit following a two-out, two-run single from Carson Ramsay that scored William Booth and Nolan Cates, but he was thrown out trying to steal second by Ladoux to end the frame.
The Market squad added a single run in the fourth, as Dray scored on an RBI fielder’s choice from Evan Fuller.
Saturday’s win gave 2nd Street Market its first victory over Pepsi in three matchups, and they did so with five hits and six walks.
Schwartz and Dray each had two hits, scored a run and drove in two runs apiece. Coburn and Hoover walked and scored, and Ortega reached on three walks and scored a run.
“The last time we played this team, we fell behind and kept battling back into the game and tied it up but couldn’t get that last hit to win it,” said 2nd Street Market manager Jeff Hodges. “That game and being able to come back gave them a lot of confidence. Today, when we jumped out to a little bit of a lead, it really gave them confidence to finish strong.”
The first four Pepsi batters, Booth, Cates, Ofisa and Ramsay went 5 for 12 with two walks, two runs and two RBIs.
With two starters away from the team, depth became an issue, as the five-through-nine hitters finished 0 for 10 with two walks and eight strikeouts.
In three at-bats, Ramsay went 2 for 3 with two RBIs. Booth and Cates added a hit and a run each, Ofisa posted a hit in three plate appearances, and both Cody Agidius and Owen Adams went hitless but had a walk apiece.
“We got people on base, but couldn’t string our hits together and put enough pressure on them to make them make mistakes,” Pepsi manager Michael Cates said. “They competed, and we didn’t quite swing our bats the way we should have and didn’t battle with his pitch count a little bit more to get him out of the game sooner. That would have helped us out.”
Team Pepsi ends the season at 15-3 overall and 12-2 in league, with coach Cates winding up second in consecutive years.
“I am super-proud of these boys,” coach Cates said. “We held on to first place all year long. We didn’t win the championship, but I am very proud of the way they competed all year.”