The NBS 16's stranded Cass High's Brandon Etheridge at third in their final turn at bat Tuesday and that inability to push across a run saddled them with a 2-1 loss to Farrah Builders in Perfect Game's 16U National Championship series.
The loss means the Acworth-based team, which includes four Bartow County baseball players, closes out its run in the tournament today at Cass High field, where they have played four games already in the tournament that features more than 200 teams from across the nation.
Head coach Jarrod Brown said his team will take the loss in stride and focus today on "closing out the season on a high note."
Brown said he was proud of NBS 16's performance Tuesday.
"Overall we played well," he said. "Their pitcher [Mike Bolton] had the best game of his life. He gave up one run with three hits through seven innings. He threw really well and made it tough for us to be successful. Our guys showed a lot of heart."
Although getting out hit six to three, NBS made the most of its opportunities and almost found a way to pull out the game at the end.
The Georgia team drew first blood, the scoring starting with a single in the top of the fourth by Austin Walker of the Walker School in Marietta, who promptly showed off an aggressive approach to the game by stealing second. He was attempting to steal third when an errant throw allowed him to go all the way home to give the NBS 16's a 1-0 lead.
But the Builders answered in the bottom of the frame with a double by Daniel Pineda, who advanced to third on a single by Jack Gifford then went home courtesy of a sacrifice by Anthony Asta.
Farrah closed out its scoring in the sixth starting when Tommy Broyles doubled off Dylan Williams, a Cass pitcher in a relief role for the NBS 16's. Aidan Favia came in as a courtesy runner and was driven in by Jacob Nappi, giving the New Jersey team a 2-1 lead.
NBS 16's tried to snatch a victory from the jaws of defeat in the top of the seventh when Etheridge recorded his triple, giving his team a runner at third with one out.
The next two batters didn't get it done, however, and Farrah walked off the field with the 2-1 win.
Other Bartow players who took the field for NBS 16's were Luke Patterson and Chaz Wilson.
"Even when we were in tough spots and tough situations, our guys still showed a lot of effort and made it a good game," Brown said. "They really showed a lot of heart today and played hard."
He said they showed a lot of character in holding Farrah to one run in the bottom of the fourth, when the New Jersey team loaded the bases with no outs but was able to send just one runner across home plate by inning's end.
Brown said Williams pitched well, but the baseball favored Farrah when it did drop.
"Our reliever gave up one good hit and they just dropped one in over the third-base line," he said. "He made a good pitch and their guy just made a good swing on it and got a single out of it. That's baseball. The ball falls where it's going to fall."
He said his team, which now sports a 2-1-1 record in the tournament, didn't give up and that's important.
"We were in it until the very last pitch," he said. "Our last two guys had a chance to get our guy [Etheridge] in from third, and they just couldn't get it done. Brandon came through with a big hit when we needed it, and we would have tied the game up if we could have gotten that last run across."
He said the loss ended NBS 16's chance to make the playoffs. "I told the kids to come out [today] ready to end our season on a high note and not be disappointed with anything they did [Tuesday]. They gave what they could and [Farrah's] pitcher just outpitched us [Tuesday]."
NBS 16's play Marucci Elite 16s Louisiana at 2 p.m. at Cass High.