FARMINGTON — The East Cobb Yankees survived a comeback attempt by the Southern California Renegades to remain the only undefeated team at the Connie Mack World Series.
The Yankees scored four runs in the first inning and held on for a 5-4 victory over the Renegades on Wednesday at Ricketts Park.
"It was a big game today, because it keeps us undefeated, of course," said East Cobb head coach James Beavers. "They have a good team, and it felt like we were just trying to hang on there at the end."
East Cobb jumped on the Renegades right off the bat, taking a 4-0 lead after the first inning.
Jason Delay, Nathaniel Lowe and Brandon Gold strung together three-consecutive doubles, all with two outs, to drive in the four runs.
Gold went 2-for-3 in the win, his third multi-hit game of the series, and said the Yankees' ability to get off to a hot start at the plate has been critical to their success in the CMWS.
"It's huge and puts the other team in a really awkward position," Gold said. "Matt (Phillips) has had a few a rough outings, so to put runs on the board early was important."
The East Cobb starter Phillips only lasted two innings while giving up three runs, while Renegades' starter Tyson Miller allowed five runs in one and two-thirds innings, forcing both head coaches to go to their bull pens early in the contest.
The relievers fared much better as the Yankees' Will Craig allowed one run in three innings to get the victory, while Renegades reliever Pedro Fierros tossed three and two-third no-hit innings to keep Southern California within striking distance.
"He had a great breaking pitch," Beavers said of Fierros, who struck out four Yankee hitters. "He did pretty well. At that point, I was just hoping to hold onto what we had, because I didn't think we were going to get a whole lot more."
Seth Pierce came on in relief of Craig in the sixth inning for the Yankees and threw two shutout innings to get the save.
The Renegades' best chance to complete the comeback came in the top of the sixth off of Pierce when second baseman Darren Miller led off with a single and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt. But Southern California stranded him there, then went down in order in the top of the seventh to end the game.
"We had a few base running mistakes," said Renegades head coach Si Pettrow. "That's the way the game goes."
Southern California has fought back from defeat before at the CMWS, sweeping a doubleheader on the final day in 2012 to win the championship.
"We just have to come back and keep playing," Pettrow said. "Now, it's a one game playoff, so we have to win each one. We'll be fine. We have plenty of pitching left."
Southern California advanced to the game with East Cobb by defeating Midland 10-3 earlier in the day.
East Cobb will face the Strike Zone Baseball on today but is guaranteed to play in the championship Friday, regardless of the results.
Beavers hopes his team doesn't take that cushion for granted.
"If you mess around, then you can go into Friday with a loss, then anything can happen," Beavers said. "Tomorrow is a big game for us."
Southern California will face D-BAT Leach at 5:15 p.m. today in an elimination game.
Joshua Perry covers sports for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4577 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @jperrysuu.