Daniel Beal of Ararat gets ready to swing during Wednesday’s game against Casselton, North Dakota at the 12U Cal Ripken World Series in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. Photo provided by Angela Wilkinson

PALM BEACH GARDENS, FLORIDA — Coming into the final day of pool play at the 12U Cal Ripken World Series, the players on Ararat knew that Wednesday’s game against Casselton, North Dakota was a must-win.

They certainly played like it, earning a gutsy 2-0 shutout victory to finish up pool play with a 2-2 record.

“I kept telling the guys that we haven’t played our best game and put it all together yet,” Ararat head coach Jon Hiltz said. “We did that today (Wednesday) and I’m so proud of the guys.”

Ararat struck in the first inning once again, and once again it came from the bat of Tyler Thibeault. Thibeault continued his torrid pace when he singled to right, driving in Brady Hiltz, who walked and took second on a wild pitch earlier in the inning.

The run gave Ararat the lead for good.

In the must-win scenario, Hiltz turned to his ace on the mound, Colby MacFawn. He delivered. MacFawn tossed 3 ⅔ innings before he was pulled for pitch count purposes. He didn’t allow a run while striking out seven on two hits while walking just two. His efforts earned him the win on the mound, and he was named player of the game for Ararat.

“I guess I was just feeling good,” said MacFawn, who went 1 for 2 at the plate. “I stuck with the fastball for the most part.”

Brady Hiltz of Ararat lets out a roar after scoring the game’s first run during Wednesday’s game against Casselton, North Dakota at the 12U Cal Ripken World Series in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. Photo provided by Angela Wilkinson

MacFawn said that of his 65 pitches, just two were curveballs.

“I think Brady (Hiltz) threw twice as many curves as I did in just two innings,” MacFawn.

With MacFawn in a jam, coach Hiltz turned to left-hander Brady Hiltz with a runner on third with two out in the fourth. He struck out Derick Jorissen of Casselton to get out of the inning.

Hiltz pitched the fifth and six innings. He struck out six of the nine batters he faced and allowed two hits in 2 ⅓ innings to shut the door and secure the win.

Ararat added its second run in the third inning, when Daniel Beal scampered home from third on a throwing error by Casselton catcher Grady Mueller. Casselton made things interesting in the sixth inning, when runners reached second and third with two outs. A nice play by Ely Cornish on a hard ground ball to second base secured the win for Ararat.

The loss also drops Casselton to 2-2 to finish out pool play. It remains to be seen whether both Ararat and Casselton will advance to the “Championship” bracket or the “Iron Man” bracket. The seeding for each of the brackets will be determined at the conclusion of Wednesday’s final game, which was scheduled for 7 p.m.

“We knew we’d have to win to give ourselves a shot,” said Hiltz. “Now we’ll wait and see how they set it up, we’ll be looking for it.”

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