The Brian Hale Boilers knew heading in to the Pony World Series that the competition was going to be fierce. After all, it is a collection of the best eight Pony teams in the world.

But Puerto Rico’s program may be in a whole different stratosphere. There are major league bloodlines in some of the players, and the manager said that this group of athletes won the Age 13 World Series a year ago.

It all added up to a formidable first test for the Boilers, who lost 11-0 in five innings Saturday night in the World Series opener.

But an early defeat in the double-elimination tournament is nothing that’s going to set this group of area players back. The Boilers also lost the first game of a qualifying tournament before rebounding to earn their World Series spot.

“We’re going to fall back on being it this spot before,” Boilers coach Josh Day said. “We’ve lost that opening game before and we’re not changing anything we’ve done in the past. That game’s behind us and let’s move forward. Let’s do what we’ve done all year: Stick together, go hard and hustle.”

Austin Urban had the only two hits for the Boilers on Saturday night, though if not for a phenomenal play by the Puerto Rico shortstop, Luke Trotz could have had another hit.

The Boilers will face Chesterfield County, Va., in the elimination bracket of the World Series.

The first pitch is scheduled for 5:30 this afternoon.

Of course, having another strong showing from the fans would be a big boost to the Boilers as the tournament progresses.

“The fans were fantastic,” Day said. “We had a sea of red on both sides of the diamond. It was just a sea of red and that is great. The kids greatly appreciated it. It made the big game that much more exciting to hear that hometown support, even being two hours away. Thanks to all the Johnstown natives that drove down.”

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