by Lary Bump
RICHARDSON, TX – Lane Mangum breezed through the top of the first inning Saturday, striking out two batters and giving up an easy grounder.
Then he went to the Louisiana Knights dugout at Breckinridge Park and sat. He batted, scored a run and sat again. And sat some more.
By the time he took the mound again, he had an 8-0 lead, mostly courtesy of four walks and eight wild pitches by two Texas Raiders-Kelley pitchers.
The top-seeded Knights went on to win 12-7 and advance to Sunday’s Triple Crown Texas Season Opener 13u Elite winners’ bracket final against the No. 2 seed Crawdads by Yeti from Austin, Texas.
Mangum struck out four batters and allowed one run and two hits in three innings.
“I commanded the strike zone very well. My best pitch was the two-seam fastball.”
He said it wasn’t easy waiting through the long bottom of the first.
“It’s kind of harder. You’re not just going back out there. You’ve got to stop."
The Raiders tried valiantly to continue their Cinderella run from the 12th seed of the 12-team tournament. Earlier Saturday, they edged the fifth-seeded Canes Southwest Scrappers 4-3 and routed the fourth-seeded Houston Generals 10-3.
The 12-7 loss was an improvement over the 17-1 loss to Louisiana in Friday night’s pool play that determined seedings. And the Raiders scored the final six runs against the Knights Saturday.
On Saturday, the Knights had just seven hits. Catcher Joshua Sanchez had two hits, a run-scoring single in the first inning and an RBI double in the third.
Sanchez said he and Mangum work well together.
“It’s easy to catch him. We have that connection. We’ve bonded every year we’ve played together.”
The Knights from Shreveport, La., nearly lost their first game on Saturday, but rallied to beat the Exit Velocity Yankees from Hornlake, Miss., 7-6.
“The guys really battle,” coach Peter Pizarro said. “We had a situation where we were down by two, but they just don’t quit.”
Dyson Fields struck 10 to beat the Yankees. He was pitching to catcher Lane Mangum.
“The umpire was favoring the outside corner,” Fields said, “so we really just tried to keep the ball outside.”
The Crawdads won Saturday over Dugout Glory 6-1 and Spitfire Truth 6-2.
Both teams justified their 1-2 seeding. In four games, the Knights have outscored opponents 46-15. The Crawdads have scored 38 and given up only five.
Saturday’s games were played with temperatures in the 40s, constant misty rain and low-hanging clouds that shrouded the tops of the buildings in downtown Dallas 25 miles away. Sunday's conditions worsened, and no other games were played.