American ready to rebound vs. Nebraska
Published 11:27 am, Saturday, August 18, 2012
SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. -- It might seem hard to believe, but Fairfield American Little League is one loss from having its competitive summer end.
But Fairfield manager Bill Meury is not sweating that fact.
Fairfield will send Matt Kubel to the mound in its third elimination game of the summer, Saturday at Lamade Stadium against Kearney, Neb. at 3 p.m.
Fairfield lost its opener, 6-4 to Petaluma, Calif., and will have to win Saturday, Monday and Tuesday to reach Thursday's U.S. semifinals.
Even with the loss, Meury thinks his club has renewed confidence and belief.
"I think the kids walked off the field thinking `we belong here as much as any other team,'" Meury said. "I think they got more confidence, despite the loss, coming into the second game than they had going into the first game."
Fairfield's 3-0 in its previous three elimination games this summer, outscoring its opponents 24-5 in those contests.
Kubel has won two of those games, both in the regional tournament. The 5-11, 150-pound lefty was 4-0 with a 1.29 ERA in Bristol and has won five consecutive decisions. He also has not pitched since he clinched the New England regional championship over Bedford, N.H. in Bristol.
"Matty feels good, he's got a ton of rest," Meury said. "He's been on a roll."
Meury also has admired his team's calm demeanor, despite the stage.
"I think the kids feel pretty good about what's going on," Meury said Thursday afternoon. "I think they've been very composed, more composed than even the first couple of games in Bristol."
Meury spent his Thursday alternately watching Kearney play Goodlettsville, Tenn. and tending to his injured son, Ryan. Ryan was hit in the wrist and lip by a pitch in the fifth inning of Fairfield's loss.
He was given three stitches in his lower lip, but was cleared and will play against Nebraska.
"Luckily the ball didn't hit him directly in the mouth," Bill Meury said. "He went to the batting cage ... I didn't ask him how he's doing psychologically, but he looked fine."
Bill Meury admitted his son was fortunate to dodge a severe injury.
"He got lucky," he said. "I think if he had gotten hit directly, he would've been out for the rest of the tournament."
Despite Kearney's 12-1 loss to Tennessee on Thursday night, Meury thinks his team is in for a test.
"They looked pretty good," Meury said of Kearney. "It looked like Nebraska had an off night."
Meury expects Jared Wegner to start for Kearney. The 5-4, 115-pound righty surrendered two earned runs in two innings on Thursday, before being removed after throwing 35 pitches.
Matt Masker, who clinched Nebraska's Midwest Regional championship win, is also available. He was 1-0 with a 5.04 ERA in four appearances and two starts at regionals.