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AMERICAN LEGION BASEBALL / SOUTHWEST REGIONAL : Newbury Oaks Stays Alive With 10-1 Victory


LAS VEGAS — Ryan Kritscher caused more trouble before his first official at-bat Saturday night than most guys do in an entire ballgame.

In his first three plate appearances, Kritscher scored three runs before he had even taken the bat off his shoulder.

"If they're not gonna throw me strikes, I'll take a walk," Kritscher said, "then try to steal second and hopefully score a run."

Kritscher finished with two hits in three at-bats and scored four times to lead Newbury Oaks to a 10-1 rout of Orem, Utah, in an elimination game of the American Legion Southwest regional at Cashman Field.

On the final day of tournament play today, Newbury Oaks (34-2) will face Hawaii today at 8:15 a.m. The winner will face Las Vegas in the afternoon. All three teams are 3-1 in the double-elimination event, and only the winner will advance to the World Series, which begins Wednesday in Fargo, N.D.

Saturday's rout, to nobody's surprise, started--and essentially ended--with Kritscher. The Newbury Oaks third baseman walked on 13 pitches in his first three plate appearances, then contributed a big run-scoring single in the seventh.

"He makes us go," Coach Chuck Fick said. "I've said all year that I have the best 1-2 guys in the state on this team."

The second batter in the lineup, Robert Fick, singled twice and scored twice for Newbury Oaks, which pounded out 11 hits. More important, the lopsided score allowed the team to rest its starting pitching for today's do-or-die doubleheader.

"Everything's fallen into our hands now," said Kritscher, who is seven for 15 in the tournament.

Utah (38-9) was sent packing early. Left-hander Tighe Curran started and pitched three scoreless innings for Newbury Oaks, which led, 6-0, when he was removed. Curran and Adam West are expected to handle today's pitching chores.

Right-hander Craig Arnold (3-0) picked up for Curran in the fourth and allowed one unearned run in four innings to pick up the victory. He did everything a coach could ask of a relief pitcher: threw strikes, stayed out of trouble and let the defense do its job.

"I'm used to it," said Arnold of his long-relief role. "Actually, I kind of like it."

Arnold (3-0) allowed one hit, struck out two and walked none.

"With that kind of lead, you have to throw strikes," said Arnold, who has walked just two batters in 37 innings this summer. "That's the whole idea."

The idea in general Saturday was to score a ton of runs early, so that Curran could be saved for today. Newbury Oaks followed the script to the letter. Curran, Arnold and Jason Patterson--who pitched the eight and ninth--held Utah to five hits while the offense rolled.

Newbury Oaks, already holding a three-run lead, blew the game open in the fourth by scoring three times for a 6-0 lead.

Utah starter David Nelson issued a one-out walk to Jeff Olin and a two-out pass to Kritscher, then grooved one to Robert Fick, who singled to center to drive in Olin and to start a pivotal chain reaction.

Center fielder Jeff Easton overran the ball for an error, allowing Kritscher to score and Fick to cruise into second.

David Lamb then drilled a double off the fence in left to score Fick, handing Newbury Oaks a 6-0 lead and chasing Nelson.

Nelson allowed six runs in 3 2/3 innings, walked six and hit a batter.

Nelson also fueled a two-run Newbury Oaks rally in the third. With Kritscher on first and one out, Robert Fick lined a hit-and-run single to left. Nelson then wild-pitched the runners over and followed with a pitch to the backstop screen, allowing Kritscher to score easily.

One out later, with Fick on third, Nelson fired one in the dirt that catcher Tye Hanseen blocked. The ball bounced 10 feet from the plate, however, but Fick bolted home and should have been out easily, but Hanseen fired the ball well behind Nelson for an error.

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