Daily photo by Gary Cosby Jr.|
The Devil Rays celebrate their Dixie Youth Baseball Minor A city championship win Saturday in Flint. The Devil Rays knocked off the Hurricanes 6-0 in the finals.
Gators need late runs to take city title
By Paul Stackhouse
It was every bit of what a championship game should be.
In the Decatur Dixie Youth Majors (11- and 12-year-olds) city championship game Saturday night at Gale Montgomery Park in Flint, the excitement grew stronger with every pitch of every inning.
The American League White Sox players and the players from the National League Florida Gators tried their best to cheer louder than the parents, relatives and fans present. Hot and muggy conditions made soft drinks and water in demand.
And there were the usual games of cup ball being played behind each dugout.
But at the end of the night, Gators earned the right to the city championship trophy with a 10-8 victory.
The results of Minor B and T-ball championship games will be in Monday’s Daily.
There wasn’t a hint of the outcome of the game until the final out was made. The Gators led 4-3 at the end of four innings, then added six more runs to cushion their lead in the fifth. The White Sox pushed one run across the plate in the bottom of the fifth.
The Gators failed to score in the top half of the final inning. It appeared six-run lead was all that would be needed to win the game. But the White Sox were not ready to give up.
Nicholas Jones delivered a two-run homer over the left-field fence to make the score 10-6. With one out and runners on second and third, Tyler Sherwood hit a two-run single to right, cutting the Gators lead to 10-8.
Still battling, Chad Kitchens singled before Matthew Jett stroked a line drive to center, but outfielder Braxton Pitts was able to make a running catch for the second out.
The crowd grew silent for a few seconds before Ryan Perkins stepped to the plate. With a runner on first, Perkins hit a grounder to shortstop and Kitchens was called out on a force play at second to end the game.
“I really got nervous in the sixth when they made a comeback,” said Lee Godwin, who plays for the Gators.
Godwin was the starting and winning pitcher for the National League, pitching four innings, allowing three hits, while striking out five and walking three. Godwin gave up three runs and appeared dominant before his pitch count exceeded 60, when league rules forced a change. Paxton Clemons closed out the pitching chores for the Gators.
“We had a great start to our season, winning the first six games we played,” said Gators coach Chip Walraven. “Then we lost seven in a row. Our players didn’t give up, though, and they fought hard the rest of the way, just like they did in this tournament. We lost our first game in the tournament, and then won five in a row to win the championship.”
White Sox coach Charles Kitchens gave credit to the Gators.
“The Gators have an awesome team,” he said. “Chip has done a great job with them.
“Our guys have had a great year and a great tournament. We just came up short in this game. This is the best hitting team I’ve ever coached and I’m really proud of them.”
Jeff Adams and Hayden Hatfield each doubled for the Gators. Adam Archer had two singles, while Jackson Walraven and Godwin each had a single, also for the Gators.
For the White Sox, Nicholas Jones led at the plate with a home run and two singles. A.J. McKinnon had two singles, and Sherwood and Perkins each had single.
Devil Rays champions
Ethan Thomas was the winning pitcher and contributed two singles as the American League Devil Rays claimed the Minor A city championship with a 6-0 win over the National League Hurricanes at Flint Field on Saturday morning.
Riley Wimberley also had two singles for the Devil Rays.
Cole Jackson laced a double in the win. Talon Cockrell, Alex Pendley and Kyle Stuart each singled in the championship victory.
David Anderson cracked a double for the Hurricanes’ lone hit.
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