Junior League All-Stars fight to the end
by Larry S. Chowning
|Middlesex’s Adam Baldwin scores on a sacrifice fly by John Purcell as Westmoreland catcher Josh Fones takes a high throw on July 9 in Junior League All-Star action at Lancaster. (photo by Tom Chillemi)|
The Middlesex Little League Junior League All-Stars won six straight games before losing 7-1 to Essex in the championship game of the double-elimination District 15 tournament on Saturday in Lancaster.
The Middlesex All-Stars (ages 13-14) posted a 6-2 overall record in the tournament, losing the first game to Caroline 12-8 and the title game to Essex 7-1. In between, Middlesex defeated Lancaster 23-1, Spotsylvania 8-0, Caroline 16-2, Westmoreland 13-3, Northumberland 8-5, and Essex 4-1.
Because it lost its first-round game, Middlesex was forced to play in the losers’ bracket of the tournament.
Middlesex played eight games compared to only five for district champion Essex. Middlesex’s six wins were the most by any team in the tournament.
Essex finished 4-1 by winning its first three games before losing 4-1 to Middlesex on Saturday, and then downing Middlesex 7-1 in the title game later that day.
Middlesex played its final three games over an 18-hour period on Friday night and Saturday.
“It’s hard coming back and winning through the losers’ bracket,” said Middlesex coach James Pitts. “Our pitchers had to pitch more, but everyone really did a great job.”
The team was coached by Pitts and Jerry Crittenden, and sponsored by Pitts Lumber Co.
“Jerry and I want to thank all the fans and support we have received from parents and friends,” said Pitts. “It has been a real privilege to coach these boys.”
Middlesex 13, Westmoreland 3
On July 9 in the semifinals of the losers’ bracket, Middlesex walloped Westmoreland 13-3 for its fourth straight win. Vale Ceballos pitched and struck out 5. “Vale pitched a real strong game for us,” said Coach Pitts. “We also helped him by playing good defense.”
Ceballos came on in relief in the first inning to stop a Westmoreland rally and then pitched shutout ball the rest of the way. The game was called after five-innings due to the 10-run mercy rule.
“We were lucky we got the game in,” said Pitts. “A storm came in right after we finished.”
|Vale Ceballos took the mound for the Middlesex All-Stars in the first inning and shut down Westmoreland on July 9. (photo by Tom Chillemi)|
Offensively, Adam Baldwin paced Middlesex with 2 doubles, a single, 2 RBIs, a walk and 3 runs. Drew Pitts had 2 singles, 2 RBIs, 2 runs and a walk; Chris Chewning and Alexander Crittenden each had a double, 2 RBIs and a run; Ceballos doubled, drove in a run and walked; Shane Bristow, Robbie Pitts and Stone Shores each had a single.
Bristow also walked 3 times and scored a run; Shores scored twice and drove in a run; and R. Pitts scored 2 runs and knocked in one; and John Purcell contributed an RBI and a walk.
Middlesex 8, Northumberland 5
On Friday, Middlesex had to beat Northumberland in the losers’ bracket finals to get to undefeated Essex. Northumberland had lost 3-2 to Essex the night before in the winners’ bracket for its first defeat.
Middlesex was up for the challenge behind the pitching of John Purcell and Alex Crittenden. Purcell pitched 5 1/3 innings and struck out 7, and Crittenden pitched 1 2/3rd innings and struck out 3.
On offense, Baldwin had 3 singles, 3 runs, an RBI and 2 walks; Shores got the only extra base hit with a triple and scored a run; Bristow, Austin Bushong, Purcell, R. Pitts and Chewning each connected for a single.
Bushong also had a run, RBI and walk; Purcell, an RBI and 2 walks; R. Pitts, an RBI and 3 walks; Andrew Dozier, a walk and RBI; D. Pitts, an RBI and walk; and Chewning, a run.
Middlesex 4, Essex 1
Middlesex, playing on a half-day’s rest, now had to defeat twice to win the tournament and advance in state tournament. Middlesex’s number one pitcher, Shane Bristow, dominated the powerful Essex team in the first game 4-1 win. He allowed no earned runs and struck out 10.
D. Pitts had the only extra base hit for Middlesex with a double; Chewning, Crittenden and Ceballos each had two singles; Chewning also had an RBI; and Crittenden had an RBI and a run.
Baldwin and R. Pitts had a single apiece; Pitts had an RBI; Bristow had a run and 2 walks; Purcell, an RBI and walk; Shores, a walk; and Bushong, a run and a walk.
Essex 7, Middlesex 1
In the final game on Saturday, Coach Pitts said his team “just ran out of gas. We won six in a row so we told them no matter what happened they had certainly made an impression on District 15 Little League.”
Ceballos and Chewning pitched and were unable to hold the strong Essex hitters in check. Crittenden scored Middlesex’s only run on an RBI single by Bristow.
Middlesex left several runners on base and could not muster an extra base hit. Purcell, Shores, Ceballos, D. Pitts and Bristow each had a single. Purcell also had a walk; R. Pitts, a walk; Chewning, 2 walks; D. Pitts, a walk; Crittenden, a run and a walk; and Baldwin, a walk.
In its eight games in the tournament, Middlesex outscored its opposition by a combined score of 73-19.