By Rick McCorkle
The Daily News
LONGVIEW, Wash. — The start was just about perfect for Lumber River. The finish couldn’t have been much worse.
Lumber River’s dream run through the Babe Ruth 13- to 15-year-old World Series ended with a thud as it fell 12-3 to Broomall-Newtown, Pa., in Thursday night’s championship game at David Story Field in Longview, Wash.
One night after Matt Strickland tossed a complete-game gem to move Lumber River one win away from a World Series crown, the Carolinians saw an early two-run lead slip away amid a hail of mistakes.
“We didn’t appear to be as focused as what I thought we could’ve been,” Lumber River coach Reggie Strickland said. “The boys got a little upset a couple times, and didn’t come prepared to play.”
Three Lumber River miscues, along with three wild pitches, accounted for six BN runs. Lumber River finished with seven errors total on the game.
“We might’ve made a couple different coaching decisions in situations which didn’t work out,” Strickland said. “It’s a team loss, and the coaches are right along with the team. We are proud of finishing second in the World Series.”
McKinley Strickland had two hits, including a double, for Lumber River, Ted McNeill added two hits and Matthias Carter slapped a double.
But after scoring three runs in the first two frames for a 3-1 edge, Lumber River was held scoreless by BN starter Scott Hahn, who avenged an earlier loss to LR in pool play. He threw 64 of 96 pitches for strikes, struck out four, walked one and gave up eight hits.
“Scotty was our hero,” BN coach Rick Woodcock said. “He did an incredible job to come back on two days rest to pitch a second time against the same team we lost to. He’s a hero in my mind to bear down and stick it out.”
The middle of BN’s lineup - Hahn, Cameron Mathes and Corey Woodcock - combined for four singles, walked five times and scored seven runs.
BN scored four runs in the third inning, and pulled away with seven insurance runs in the final four innings.
“It’s surreal and an incredible feeling,” Woodcock said. “It’s hard to imagine when we started the summer this is how it would end. To be the number one Babe Ruth team in the United States is quite a statement.”
The championship was the second by a BN team in a week. The BN 13s won their World Series a week ago in Glen Allen, Va.
The 15s finished with 11 hits Thursday. Mathes had four singles, Kevin Downs had two singles and walked twice, and Mike Davis swatted two singles.
“I told the kids from the beginning of the season that each of them was going to do something special throughout the summer to make this championship a dream for everyone,” Woodcock said. “We stressed throughout the season to not get mad at each other, lift up your teammates and fight to the end.
“They nailed it tonight.”