Now, the Guilderland Bulldogs believe they belong in the 13-year-old Babe Ruth World Series.
Guilderland used a series of bunts to build three runs in the second inning, and Ryan Cullam doubled in two teammates in the fourth as the Bulldogs beat Southeast Region champion Glen Allen, Va., 5-2, Saturday at Clifton Common.
The win left the Bulldogs 1-1 midway through their four games in pool play in the American Division.
“We gained our momentum, finally,” said shortstop and cleanup hitter Cameron Long, who had a single, drew a walk and scored a run. “We always come out like that the first game of tournaments but we manage to get to the playoff round.”
Long and his teammates dropped a tough 2-1 loss to Jasper, Ind, in Friday’s opener of pool play. After leaving the bases loaded in the first inning against Glen Allen, the Bulldogs did what they do best.
“We play small ball. We don’t try to hit home runs,” Long said
Second baseman Connor Rogotzke as hit by a pitch to start the second. Starting pitcher Matt Pierce walked, and Virginia pitcher Noah Williams threw catcher Casey Chase’s bunt into right field, with Williams following Rogotzke home.
Brandon Das bunted Chase to third, with Brandon Peda driving him home with a two-out single.
“We played small ball, and we got the big hit,” said Guilderland manager Brian Grabek. “We didn’t get a chance to play small ball yesterday. Today we did.”
Peda thought his team would come up with a big effort.
“We’ve played together for a long time. We know each other really well, and play together well,” said Peda of the team, most of which was on the Guilderland modified squad during the school season. “We’re trying to win each inning. You’ve got to be ready to play all the time.”
Cullam drove a two-run double to the fence in left field to score Peda and Long in the fourth.
“I was happy to contribute for my team. I just hustled my heart out,” said Cullam, who had made a big throw from right field to hold a runner at third in the top of the inning.
“That was a huge hit for him. He’s been struggling, but that’s what he can do,” said Grabek. “He put a good swing on it.”
Grabek brought in Kristian Singh to start the fifth inning. Singh retired the first four hitters he faced, survived a three-hit sixth and saw Long turn a double play to end the game in his three scoreless innings.
“Kristian did a great job picking us up,” said Grabek. “It was a hot day, and Matt was gassed. I wanted to get Kristian in at the start of an inning. I told him once we got a three-run lead to throw strikes and let our guys play defense.”
OFF ON MONDAY
Guilderland plays Atlantic Shore, N.J., today at 5, then has Monday off before closing pool play Tuesday at 7:30 against Tri-Valley, California.
“Now we have confidence that we can play against these teams,” Cullam said.
“Now we feel we can compete with the teams here,” said Long. “The first goal is to get to the playoffs.”
“Now they realize they’re in the World Series,” Grabek said. “I think Clifton Park winning Friday night also helped us.
“The kids play against each other, and when they saw Clifton Park beat a team from Texas that’s supposed to be one of the best teams here, I think then they realized that they can play with anybody here. They believe they belong here.”
Matt Alverson’s two-out single in the last of the seventh inning gave host Clifton Park a 4-3 win over Grand Forks, N.D.
TWO STRAIGHT WINS
The win was the second in as many nights for the hosts, and the second time Clifton Park had rallied to win in its final at bat.
Zack Sargent led off the seventh with a walk, but was forced by Richard Drum, who took second when Brendan Calistri grounded out. Alverson followed with a hard single through the left side.
Mike Gillooley and starting pitcher Liam Harrison drove in runs in the second inning, and Danny Gregory singled home a run in the third. Gregory also threw out the go-ahead run at the plate in top of the fifth.
Clifton Park plays Cranston, R.I., tonight at 7:30.
Glen Allen, Va. 002 000 0 — 2 7 2
Guilderland 030 200 x — 5 7 2
Williams and Arnold; Pierce, Singh (5) and Chase, Curry (5).
Grand Forks, N.D. 010 020 0 — 3 7 4
Clifton Park 021 000 1 — 4 4 3
Atlantic Shore, N.J. 102 000 1 — 4 10 4
Tri-Valley, Calif. 401 111 x — 8 9 1
Eagle Pass, Texas 000 000 100 1 — 2 10 1
Meridian, Idaho 001 000 000 0 — 1 3 3