The Gulf Coast Sox opened their Spring season over the weekend and kept up their winning ways. After winning and finishing as runner up in tournaments in the Fall, the Sox won again in Hammond to take the Championship banner.
They got it started Saturday afternoon with a decisive win against the Northshore Grit. With Wesley Watson and Andrew Grubbs both scoring 2 runs, the Sox handled the Grit 9-3. Jake Thomas, Levi Foshee and Sean Ostheimer each contributed multiple hits in the game, and Luke Thomas teamed with Foshee and Jake Thomas to pitch the game with 6 strikeouts and only 2 earned runs.
Next up was a classic baseball battle with the Dirty South Angels. In a pitching duel, the Angels scored a run in each of the first 3 innings as they held the Sox off the scoreboard, before breaking out in the bottom of the 4th inning. Jake Thomas and Kyle Stegall both had hits in the inning, as the Sox drew 3 walks and a stolen base from Ashton Schepens to score 3 runs and tie the game 3-3. After a scoreless 5th for both teams, the Angels added a go ahead score in the top of the 6th and held the Sox down in the bottom to win the battle 4-3. Round one went to the Angels.
Sunday's late afternoon bracket game saw the Sox add another 9 runs against the Northshore Grit and completely shut them down with a no-hitter from the mound. Kyle Stegal and Peyton Woods combined to throw 5 innings of no-hit ball, striking out 4 and allowing only 3 baserunners with walks. Offensively, the Sox exploded for 15 hits led by 3 hits each from Wesley Watson Ashton Schepens. The 9 run shutout of the Grit set up round two of the battle with the Dirty South Angels - this time in the Championship game.
The Sox started the game aggressively, scoring 4 runs in the top of the 1st. Jake Thomas and Kyle Thomas each doubled, and 4 walks issued to the Sox in the inning gave way to the big inning. Luke Thomas pitched a scoreless 1st and the Sox added another run in the top of the 2nd as Schepens and Jake Thomas had hits to increase their lead to 5-0.
The Angels struck in the bottom of the 2nd, using two hits and 3 walks to score 3 runs to chase Thomas from the mound. His twin brother Jake came in relief, allowing a hit and run before recording the final out of the inning and still leading 5-4.
The Sox grabbed momentum back in the 3rd, as Levi Foshee drew a 2-out walk and Kyle Stegall drove him with a hard ground ball past the center fielder to increase the lead back to 2 runs. The Angels started their half of the 3rd with a leadoff single followed by another hit and a walk to load to the bases with no out. Jake Thomas struck out the next batter before allowing a run by hitting the next batter. With the bases loaded and one out, Thomas induced a fly ball to left field. With the tying run tagging up at 3rd, left fielder Stegall made a perfect throw to Grubbs at home to throw the runner out, recording the double play and preserving the slim one-run lead.
The Sox earned some breathing room for their pitcher in the top of the 4th, draw three consecutive walks to start the inning and load the bases. Without recording a hit, Sox scored on a fielder's choice to 2nd base from Schepens and a passed ball with Watson on 3rd, increasing the lead back to 3 runs. Jake Thomas took the mound in the bottom of the last inning, drawing three ground balls around a single to keep the Angels off the scoreboard - Sox win the second battle 8-5 and the Championship.