The Lake County Lightning- Rausch 14U (pictured above) won its first tournament in 2018 this past weekend at the USSSA Rocks Grand Park Global World Series Qualifier after capping an impressive run with an 18-11 victory against the Motor City Hit Dogs. The Lightning went 5-0 and out-slugged opponents 56-36 overall throughout the three-day tournament in Westfield, Indiana.
The 14-Open division attracted 21 total teams from four different states; Indiana, Illinois, Michigan and Ohio. Each squad played two pool games to determine seeding and bracket placement. Unusually, this tournament featured four different single elimination brackets for teams to be placed in. The top one took the best eight teams after pool play and the other three acted as a consolation stage.
In their initial pool play game, the Lightning blew out the Vikings Elite from Ohio, 12-5. Pitchers Myles Tucker, Michael Addari and Christian Santiago combined for the victory. Manager Gene Rausch’s team followed that win with a tough contest against the Major-classified Baseball Academics Midwest 14U. They entered the game with a 12-7 overall record and put up a fight, losing 6-2. This time the seven innings were split amongst Charlie Marisca (3 IP), Daniel Pacella (3 IP) and Jeremy Walton who threw one inning to close out the game.
The Lightning’s 2-0 record and 3.5 average runs allowed gave them the fifth overall seed, well within the top-8 cutoff. The four teams ranked higher were also 2-0 with better runs allowed averages: the Indiana Mustangs, Indiana Nitro 14U Gold, Indiana Prospects and Indiana Expos.
In the championship bracket field of eight, the Lightning-Rausch played the aforementioned Expos and narrowly escaped with a 6-5 victory in the first round. Myles Tucker started and pitched 4.2 terrific innings while Michael Addari entered in relief to record the final four outs.
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In the semifinals, the Lightning faced off with Canes Baseball a major classified team from Ohio with a 13-2-3 overall record. The boys from Illinois won yet another one-run game, this time by the score of 14-13. The Lightning’s bats stayed hot in the title game against the Hit Dogs where they posted 18 runs and won by seven. The Hit Dogs had been an excellent 20-3 overall prior to the game.
This Global World Series title was the first USSSA crown for the Lightning on the year, but their other two finishes were solid – a second and third place - in two separate Qualifier events. Their offense is clearly their strength as they average over 10 runs scored per game in the six In Class matchups.
The Lightning are now 10-2 overall including a perfect 6-0 In Class (against other 14-Major teams).