FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Nick Bullington had never faced a 94 mph fastball before, but he knew what to do with it Saturday morning.
Bullington turned one of Dillon Howard's heaters into a two-run single in the top of the first inning to help the Dallas Patriots top the Midland Braves/Royals Scout Team, 4-2, in the featured Game of the Day at the WWBA Underclass World Championship at Terry Park.
"It was pretty nice to get that, to get the kids pumped up and start us off good," said Bullington, a junior at Richland High School in Fort Worth, Texas. "It was pretty exciting, knowing that I gave us the lead in the first inning and got us off."
Bullington didn't know it was a 94 mph fastball.
"Not at the time," he said. "The best I've faced before is probably 90, 91 in high school. I got on it early and threw my hands out there. I was sitting fastball and he threw it out there. He left it over the plate."
The Midland Braves/Royals Scout Team, trailing 4-2 in the bottom of the last inning, put the tying runs on base with one out, but Dallas relief pitcher Joey Kaufman (Plano Senior H.S., 2011, Richardson, Texas) got Clint Jones to bounce into a 6-4-3 double play on a slider to end the game.
The Patriots raised their record to 2-0 in Pool Play. The Braves fell to 1-1.
"I'll tell you, they're a great team," said Dallas Patriots Coach Logan Stout, saluting the Braves. "You don't come all the way to Fort Myers to play bad teams. You come here to play great teams. I mean, you've got a kid who's running it at 94. That's fun. The kids executed, made some big-time pitches."
Howard, a 6-foot-2 right-hander from Searcy, Ark. (2011), pitched three innings and hit 92, 93 or 94 mph in every frame. He struck out six batters, but walked three batters and was touched for three runs on four hits.
Braden Strickland (Eustace H.S., Gun Barrel City, Texas, 2011) tossed four strong innings for Dallas. He didn't hit 94 like Howard, but tossed fastballs that were clocked at 87 or 88 mph in all four frames. He allowed two runs and was the winning pitcher, leaving with a 3-2 lead after allowing a leadoff single in the top of the fifth. Kaufman flirted with danger in relief, but got double-play grounders to end the last two innings.
Joshua Bell, a 6-foot-2 outfielder with great speed, went 2-for-3 with a triple for Dallas. His infield single off Howard started the two-run rally in the first inning, and he slugged the triple to deep center in the fifth (but was stranded at third). Bell, a switch-hitter from Jesuit College school in Irving, Texas (2011), committed to LSU last month while playing in the Perfect Game World Championship in Tucson, Ariz.
Bell's mother, grandmother and sister have all attended LSU, which won the College World Series this year. Bell plans to join the Tigers in 2011. "Yeah, it's pretty sweet," he said.
Bullington, who went 2-for-3 as the designated hitter Saturday, likes his team's chances to get deep into the tournament.
"I think we have a pretty good chance," he said. "We're playing good, we're playing as a team. I think we can take it home."