MINNEAPOLIS -- Harrisburg RBI's late rally Thursday ended one run shy of extending the game and the team's chances at an undefeated run through pool play. Harrisburg came up short, dropping a 5-4 result to Cleveland RBI.
But Harrisburg's 5-1 mark in division play this week was still good enough to secure a top seed in Saturday's playoff portion of the 2012 Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities World Series.
The defeat didn't appear to have any effect on manager Mike Stepp's confidence in his team. Stepp's club was here last year, too, going 2-5 and bowing out of the tournament with a loss to Hoboken in the playoffs.
"I love my team," Stepp said. "I think we have a great chance out here."
Harrisburg faced a 5-0 deficit after the first two innings of Thursday's game, but picked up one run each in the third, fourth, fifth and seventh innings to make things interesting.
At the heart of the comeback effort was Rubie Teffeteller, who went 3-for-4. Teffeteller's RBI double put Harrisburg on the board in the third inning. She also scored Harrisburg's final two runs after singling in the fifth and seventh innings. Teffeteller hit .533 (8-for-15) with seven RBIs in six games of pool play.
Stepp was proud of the way his team competed after falling behind early, particularly with how it responded after he made changes.
"That shows what type of team I have," Stepp said. "They're very good. They're never going to give up. And they're there to pick each other up as well. That's what they did today.
"The starters couldn't get the job done. We brought in the substitutes and they came in and picked it right up. The girls that were in [earlier] were on the sidelines cheering for them all the way."
Starting pitcher Faith Midgarden allowed four hits in three innings Thursday, but no other Harrisburg pitcher allowed an earned run in pool play. Lexus Allen, Makenzie Lynn, Katharine Moosic and Cassidy Pinchorski combined for 28 innings in which they allowed no earned runs and only 12 hits.
"Fast-pitch softball's about pitching," Stepp said. "Anybody will tell you that. We have very good pitching. That's what's gotten us here. And that's what's going to take us beyond."
Teams will break from play on Friday, but Harrisburg will meet Mathews-Dickey Boys & Girls Club (St. Louis) in a quarterfinal playoff game at Neiman Athletic Complex at 9:30 a.m. ET on Saturday. The winner will face either Big Island RBI or RBI Atlanta at 12:30 p.m. ET for the right to play in Sunday's championship game.
Meanwhile, Dominican Republic RBI will play Hoboken at St. Paul's Dunning Sports Complex at 9:30 a.m. ET. That winner will be pitted against the victor from the matchup between Cleveland and Houston to determine the other participant in the championship game, which will be held at the University of Minnesota's Jane Sage Cowles Stadium at 2 p.m. ET on Sunday. The game will also be broadcast on MLB Network on Aug. 17 at noon ET.
As far as the key to his team continuing its success into elimination play, Stepp elected for a simple message.
"We have to win two games to get to the television," Stepp said. "That's all I have to say about that."
Jordan Garretson is an associate reporter for MLB.com.