The Strike Zone baseball club will play host for the Connie Mack World Series starting on Friday at Ricketts Field in Farmington.
The 18-and-under team that includes Kelton McCoy of Bayfield, Kyle Duran and Lawrence Mayberry from Durango and Andrew Laymon of Cortez, went 5-1 in the Connie Mack City Tournament to win the title and punch its ticket to the World Series.
After winning its opening game in the City Tournament over last year’s tournament winner, the 4-Corners ClubSox, Strike Zone dropped its second contest to the Rivercats.
The loss sent them into the losers’ bracket, but the Farmington-based team was able to string together four consecutive wins –including a 5-1 victory over the ClubSox in the title game – to become city champs.
“We got knocked out [of the tournament] with my team last year and the other Strike Zone team got knocked out,” explained Laymon. “So the guys that returned this year had that fire in them and we just fed off of them. Once we all started to believe in the system and everything that the coaches were telling us we just took off. We had that mindset that we could beat anyone –and that’s what we did.”
The 2016 Montezuma-Cortez graduate has played in 34 games for Strike Zone this summer and is hitting .375 with 22 runs scored, 33 RBIs and two homers.
He’s also pitched 13 innings and has a 2-0 record with eight strike outs and a 3.769 ERA.
Laymon has played a handful of different positions this summer, but said that he believes he’ll spend most of his time in left field for the World Series.
Strike Zone opens play against the Western Regional qualifier – Southern California Renegades –on Friday, July 29 at 7:30 p.m. at Ricketts Park.
Having been to the tournament as a spectator, Laymon is excited to now be participating and said that he expects a crowd of around 7,000 to fill the park for opening night.
“I’m excited,” he said. “Of course there’s going to be some nerves, but I’m just ready to experience it all. It’s going to be a great time and I’m looking forward to it.”
The twelve-team tournament includes teams from across the country, as well as Puerto Rico. The host team will stay busy practicing this week in order to defend its home field come Friday.
“We’ll be sharpening our tools and getting ready to go,” said Laymon. “We’re just going in with the mindset we did at the City [Tournament]. We want to win, so we’re going for everything, we’re pulling out all the stops and we’re going to play as hard as we can and do whatever it takes.”