BRISTOL, Conn. - After two grueling games to open Mid-Atlantic Regional pool play, Keystone took Tuesday to rest.
In addition to some hitting work on the practice field, manager Bill Garbrick opted to take a different approach: Get away for a little while.
After enjoying some time with their families for a team dinner at a local restaurant, Keystone returned back to its temporary living quarters with a goal at hand:?Win one of the next two games, and safely secure yourself a spot in the single-elimination bracket that begins Friday.
Win both, and Keystone probably grabs the No. 1 seed.
No matter, the opportunity to play on national television is something each kid is looking forward to.
"Playing on ESPN would be pretty cool," said Mitchell Smith, who made an incredible diving catch to preserve Keystone's 5-3 win over Great Kills American, N.Y., Sunday night at Breen Field. "It would be neat that everyone back home would have a chance to watch us."
The two bumps in the road are in the form of Williamsport, Md. and Washington D.C.
Keystone plays at 4 p.m. today against Maryland (1-2) and 4 p.m. Wednesday against Northwest Washington L.L. (0-3) of D.C.
"It feels great that we are undefeated. Hopefully, we can win the next two and move on," Michael Keibler said.
After a shaky game defensively against New Jersey - one where the Keystone committed four errors but walked away with an 8-4 win - it looked sound defensively against a pretty strong New York squad.
Even when the going got tough, no one blinked an eye. Landon Breon drove in the game-winning run on an RBI single in the fourth to snap a 3-all tie, and Tyler McCloskey preserved the lead in relief.
Those two are going to play an important role. Because Alex Garbrick and Cole Reeder won't be available until the semifinals at the earliest, Breon and McCloskey could be called upon to start. Breon, a hard-throwing lefty, picked up the victory in the state championship against West Point, while McCloskey has done a great job in relief.
Bill Garbrick also has the services of Trebor Nicodemus, Brandon Miller and Ethan Watkins - all whom have pitched in all-stars.
"Plus, we have some other guys we could throw in the ring," the manager said. "I think we will be fine. That's where our pitching depth comes into play."
Although Keystone had a brutal two-day stretch with Paramus and Great Kills American, that's where the experience of playing those two teams could help.
GKA defeated Maryland and its ace starter Levi Taylor in the opening game of the regional. Taylor, because he was pulled after 65 pitches in a 2-all game, is eligible to throw - and is fully expected to with Maryland needing a victory.
Washington D.C. has struggled in the field, and hasn't been close in its losses to Delaware, Maryland and New Jersey.
"The whole tournament is shaking out really well," Bill Garbrick said. "We didn't know anything about New Jersey, and they are strong. We set out with our best lineup that we could think of for them, and it really worked out well. New York, I think they are strong and we were able to come away with the win. It's working out well for us. Being 2-0 is a great feeling.
"I think it was good to start off with two strong teams because it gave the kids an idea of what we would face this entire tournament and the level of play that's needed. I think everyone is ready, and understands what we have to do."
Being the top seed does have a few advantages.
One, Keystone would get the opportunity to play the No. 4 seed. Two it has the chance of playing a later game at 3 p.m. instead of 11 a.m.
"It's important for the kids to have that No. 1 seed. I think it's good to build confidence," Bill Garbrick said. "As coaches, it will give us a chance to set our rotation for the rest of the tournament."
A tournament that Keystone has a realistic shot of winning.
"We are not overconfident at this point," the manager said. "Our first two opponents, New York and New Jersey, have both shown the ability to be strong. Delaware is 3-0, and we don't get a chance to play them in pool play, but they look solid. It's going to be a lot of close baseball, but I think we have a chance."
The semifinals will be Friday on ESPN?at 11 and 3. The final will be on ESPN2 Sunday at 6.