FARMINGTON — Despite making their first appearance in the Connie Mack World Series, the Frozen Ropes played like veterans in the opening round.
The team out of McKinney, Texas, knocked off the Illinois Sparks 4-2 in Round 1 on Saturday at Ricketts Park.
Frozen Ropes starter Cory Scheibner tossed a complete game, limiting the Sparks to just three hits and two earned runs in the victory.
Scheibner said he didn't pitch his best, but the defense worked well behind him to help the Frozen Ropes grind out the victory.
"My fastball was not working today. My velocity was down, but my offspeed (pitches) got me through it," said Scheibner, who struck out two and walked none in seven innings. "Then we played amazing defense. You can't get it past us."
Scheibner's strong outing allows the Frozen Ropes to keep the bullpen rested for the upcoming rounds, and he said that was his mindset going to the mound.
"It's big. We have a lot of pitchers, but at some point you're going to have to use three or four in a game," Scheibner said.
Frozen Ropes head coach Danny Florence said his team has become accustomed to Scheibner putting together quality starts to open tournaments.
"Cory does that every time. He goes seven strong and throws about 75 pitches," Florence said of Scheibner, who threw 82 pitches in the win. "He's not a guy who strikes a lot of guys out, but they don't ever get ahold of him."
The Frozen Ropes struck with three runs in the bottom of the third inning to give Scheibner all the run support he would need.
Catcher Jordan Goode led off with a double, then scored following a Sparks throwing error on a bunt attempt by center fielder Luke Hamblin.
"They made a mistake, and then we hit a couple of hits," Florence said.
Hamblin pushed the lead to 2-0 after he scored on an RBI single from shortstop Joe Baker.
The Frozen Ropes plated their third run of the inning after first baseman Taylor Becerra scored on a wild pitch.
Illinois fought back with two runs in the top of the fourth, but were unable to threaten again as Scheibner retired the last 11 Sparks he faced.
The Sparks will try to avoid elimination today in a losers' bracket game with the Texas Stix, and right fielder Connor McLain said his team won't let the loss to the Frozen Ropes diminish their confidence going forward in the tournament.
"We know we can compete with anyone in the nation. Getting the first game butterflies out of the way is very important, and now we just have to come out and execute our game plan," McLain said.
The Frozen Ropes know the tournament doesn't get any easier with 13-time champion Midland awaiting them on Monday.
"We made a lot of mistakes, but I think will get better next time," Florence said. "We got the first game jitters out of the way."