FULTON, NY – The Fulton Force elite traveling baseball team started its week on July 12 with the opening ceremony and the individual skill competitions and ended the week on July 17 with heartbreak loss in the championship game.
The Force caught everyone’s eye when it captured 3 out of the 5 individual skill competitions and took second and third in another.
Dalton Babcock and Malcolm Wettering were 1 and 2 in the speed run through the majority of the field when one last participant edged Dalton by just 2 tenths of a second, giving the Force the second and third fastest runners in the field.
The next event was the “Golden Arm” outfield accuracy throw.
With nobody hitting the small target at home plate, Cole Cotton came up and threw a one-hop strike right in the target for the lead.
He was followed by Bryce Guernsey who threw a line drive just off the right of the target catching everyone’s eye.
Cotton won the Golden Arm when no one else could hit the target.
Next, we had competitors in the infield velocity throw; all of the Force players had really hard accurate throws with Will Caster standing at the end with an infield throw of 75 mph.
Noah Hardter entered the catcher throw to second base.
Noah represented well with a hard throw just off the target while a young man from Midwest Crusaders hit the target for the title.
The final event was the prestigious homerun derby with each participant getting just 3 swings.
The Force entered Nolan Bonnie and Cotton. Early in the competition a player from Kuwait hit 1 HR setting the mark.
First up for the Force was Bonnie; he had 3 really good swings just missing a homerun on one.
Next up was Cotton who came close on his first attempt and hit a line drive on his second; then hit a moon shot to right field to tie the player from Kuwait with 1 HR each.
The two went into sudden death with 3 swings each. The Kuwait player hit 3 line drives bringing up Cotton with a chance to take the title.
Cotton lined a hard shot short of the fence after taking a few pitches, then on his second swing he connected in similar fashion to his first round sending it out to right field and bringing the crowd to their feet and winning the Homerun King crown.
Seed play started on Sunday with matchups against MV Islanders (Mass) and the Midwest Crusaders (Indiana). The Force played a solid game one controlling the close game from the start; however uncharacteristic mistakes in the last inning and extra inning cost them the win, losing 3-2.
The team bounced back with a strong performance in game 2 winning 7-2 over the Crusaders.
“We were disappointed after day one, we were the better team and controlled game one throughout, we gave it away,” said Coach Cotton.
The morning of day 2 the Force found themselves up against the East Coast Cats who appeared to be their stiffest opponent in the field. Fulton played a strong game trailing by 1 run for most of it and fell just short losing 3-2.
“We just were not hitting well and executing when we did get runners in scoring position the first 2 days,” Coach Cotton said.
The second game the Force dominated the South Harlem Reds 12-6 leaving one more seed game on Tuesday against Kuwait who was 3-1. Tuesday’s games were cancelled anticipating heavy rains which never came until midafternoon.
This was an unfortunate decision causing the Force an opportunity to improve their seed to #2 before the pending championship tournament beginning Wednesday.
The Force entered the Championship Tourney as the #4 seed and would play the Midwest Crusaders (#5) then the #1 Cats if successful. The Midwest game was a pitching duel with Taber Carter pitching a complete game shutout as the Force survived 1-0. In the afternoon Semi-Final the Force once again dominated the pitching matchup as Nolan Bonnie finished off a complete game and the Force played their best overall game and beat the Cats 7-1.
The championship game was against Amsterdam who had beat Kuwait 3-1 to earn the right to play the Force. The Force took charge of the championship game by taking a 2-0 lead early and expanding it to 5-2 with just 1 and half innings to go.
That is when it turned, while the strike zone shrunk and starting pitcher Will Caster was removed do to pitch count, the Force struggled to find the strike zone and between walks and well placed ground balls found themselves down 8-5 going into the last inning.
“That is baseball, one bad inning, we were the better team and out played them 90% of the game. It was heartbreaking. Sometimes the better team does not win,” Coach Cotton said.
The Force is back in tournament action next weekend when they go to the August Avenger in Hershey, Pa., the weekend of August 1-3.