The Licking County Athletics need to find a groove in a hurry if they are to stick around for the single-elimination championship tournament at the Babe Ruth 16- to 18-years-old World Series.

The Licking County Athletics need to find a groove in a hurry if they are to stick around for the single-elimination championship tournament at the Babe Ruth 16- to 18-years-old World Series.

The host A's endured a lengthy break after the American Legion's District 6 tournament in mid-July, and their overall record dipped to 17-15 following a 6-1 loss last Tuesday against a summer team from Zanesville High School.

"We've taken a few days off and practiced a few days. We scheduled some games (last) week to help us get back into the swing of things, but we'll just have to see whether or not that's enough," said coach Rick Houston, whose team also was slated to play three other late-week games, including last Saturday's matchup against the 20-U Columbus Braves. "It makes it tough, definitely, sitting idle for so long after the legion tournament. Baseball's a game where you need to play (regularly). You can't simulate the same speed."

The A's play four pool games, beginning Wednesday against Mobile, Ala. The 10-team World Series field is divided into two pools, and the top three teams from each advance to championship play.

"At least we're set up in pool play like in (2008) and not like before when it was strictly double-elimination," Houston said. "That'll help our pitching, especially. We don't have those one or two dominant guys we can run out there when every game is so big and expect them to win. We're more of a pitch-by-committee type team."

The top pitching records entering last week had been compiled by Bryan Large (3-1), Justin White (3-3), Nick Moore (2-1), Seth Yoho (2-2), Garrett Clark (2-2) and Miles Richardson (2-3). Clark and Cole Blake (1-1) are the lone holdovers from the World Series team that failed to qualify for championship play two years ago. White (2.15), Yoho (3.09) and Moore (3.57) had the top ERAs while the strikeout leaders were Large (28), Rob Shaw (26), White (25), Clark (24), Moore (23) and Richardson (22).

Overall, 10 pitchers have been used and seven of them logged at least 21 innings, led by White (39) and Moore (31 1/3).

The offensive catalysts included Richardson (.410 batting average), Jake Nelson (.375), Blake (.364), Derek Yahn (.353), Tommy Calendine (.333), Joe Metzger (.330), Large (.325), Cole Benner (.320) and Derek Beaver (.310). Other statistical leaders included Large (four home runs), Blake (31 RBI), Metzger and Large (27 runs scored each), Metzger (13 stolen bases), Jordan Crabill (20 walks), Calendine (.483 on-base percentage) and Richardson (.639 slugging percentage).

Nate Hunt, who has appeared in 23 games, also is on the World Series roster.

"Obviously, our goal is to make it to the (championship) tournament," said Houston, who also was coach in 2008. "Unearned runs have hurt us, the physical and mental mistakes, but we'll see what happens."