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Atlanta RBI routs St. Louis for first win

MINNEAPOLIS -- When RBI softball play picked up on Monday morning at Neiman Sports Complex, one team was guaranteed its first win and another its first loss.

As Santo Domingo RBI moved to a perfect 5-0 through round-robin play with a come-from-behind 3-2 win over Harrisburg RBI, Atlanta RBI dominated St. Louis RBI, 11-0, for its first win of the tournament, while St. Louis' record fell to 0-3-1.

For the third consecutive year, the Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) World Series is being hosted by the Twins, with baseball and softball tournament games scheduled to be played through Wednesday on various fields throughout Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minn. The RBI World Series is the international baseball and softball tournament of the RBI program.

Though Harrisburg took its first loss, it earned a No. 1 seed for the playoffs in the American League Central Division, while Santo Domingo claimed the No. 1 seed in the National League Central Division. Cleveland, Hoboken and Atlanta RBI rounded out the AL with the second, third and fourth seeds, respectively. Houston, Hilo and St. Louis RBI filled out the NL Division in order.

Atlanta, which took two close losses on Sunday -- 7-6 to Harrisburg and 8-6 to Hilo -- kept St. Louis playing catch-up all morning, jumping ahead, 3-0, in the first before piling on runs en route to a mercy-rule win after five innings.

"It's a real morale booster for the girls," Atlanta coach Tim Whaley said. "It was good to see them get out there and play and not have so much pressure on them. Our hope is this will bleed over into the single-elimination part of the tournament."

Atlanta struck early as leadoff hitter LaKaylin Lee scored on a hit by Kayla Cato that was mishandled at shortstop, allowing Cato to reach safely. Cato and cleanup hitter Kendalyn Arceneaux scored on a Tia Bolden double to make it 3-0 before the inning was over.

Cato reached base in each of her four plate appearances thanks to two hits, a walk and the error. One of her hits was an RBI triple that scored Qiley Lewis in the second to make it 7-0.

"We thought if we came out and started strong, we could kind of get them down a little bit, and hopefully they would let their guards down even further," Whaley said.

While Atlanta's bats stayed hot, the defense was led by a strong outing from starting pitcher Danika Stevens. The lefty faced only 18 batters and held St. Louis to four baserunners.

"I think 'Missy' did a good job," Whaley said. "With her being a left-handed pitcher, we told her to keep the ball on the outside corner, making them hit the ball to right field. They had probably one ball hit to left field, so she did a great job. She showed a lot of poise on the mound, and she had a good demeanor."

Elsewhere, Cleveland moved to 3-2 on the tournament with a 4-2 win over Houston, while the Texas team fell to 2-3. Similarly, Hoboken earned a 4-3 victory over Hilo to improve to 2-2-1, while Hilo fell to 2-3.

Single-elimination playoffs begin on Tuesday morning, with the winners moving on to the championship semifinal on Tuesday as well.

Kelly Erickson is an associate reporter for