Middlesex Senior All-Stars headed to state tourney
by John Walsh
The Middlesex Senior Little League All-Stars (ages 15-16) won the District 15 Tournament in Tappahannock Friday with a 12-0 rout of Mathews.
The Middlesex Senior All-Stars have not lost a district game all season. Middlesex now takes their winning streak to Pound in southwest Virginia for the 16-team State Tournament that starts for Middlesex at noon on Friday, July 17, when it plays the champions of District I.
The state championship game is set for Wednesday, July 22.
Small ball was big in the close games, especially in the 6-5 win over Richmond County in the second round, said Crittenden, who also indicated this is how Middlesex will play in the state tournament.
“Anyone can win blowout games, but it’s the team that wins close games that shows how good they really are,” said Crittenden.
Middlesex defeated Caroline in the opening round 11-1, then took down Richmond County 6-5 and Essex 4-2 to arrive at the championship game still undefeated in the double elimination tournament.
Mathews reached the championship game by clawing through the loser’s bracket. Their loss to Essex on July 9 put them in the loser’s bracket where they won three games, defeating Caroline, Richmond, and Essex.
For the first time in the tournament, Middlesex failed to score in the first inning against Mathews in Friday’s championship. However, Middlesex made up for that in the second inning by scoring 3 runs and putting the pressure on Mathews, which could muster only a pair of hits in the 5-inning game.
Morgan Thomas made his second pitching appearance in the tournament and went 4 innings with 5 strikeouts and allowed just one hit by Mathews. He also had 3 putouts at his position.
Kevin Walsh pitched the 5th and final inning, striking out 2 and allowing one hit.
The 12-0 win over Mathews was the largest margin of victory for Middlesex in the tournament. Middlesex had 9 hits and 4 walks. Travis Myers and Mason Goodrich led the offensive attack with 2 doubles each, and combined for 5 RBIs and 3 runs.
Also for Middlesex in the championship game, Alexander Crittenden walked twice and scored 2 runs; Kevin Walsh had 2 RBIs; Thomas scored twice, and had a single and 2 RBIs; Myers and Goodrich each had 2 doubles and scored twice; Shane Bristow singled, scored a run and had an RBI; Cody Hunter had 2 singles, scored twice and had an RBI; and John Walsh singled and scored twice.
In its four tournament games, Middlesex outscored its opponents 33-8, and its pitchers struck out a total of 27 batters in 24 innings of play. Crittenden said of his pitchers, “I don’t know if there’s any other team out there that has a pitching staff like we do. We have five solid experienced high school pitchers that can throw at any time.”
He added that Middlesex’s strong defense pulled them out of a few tough situations during the district tournament.
Middlesex’s trip to the finals was punctuated by an important 4-2 win over Essex on July 8. The winner got a day’s rest while the loser played an extra game.
A key to Middlesex’s tournament success was scoring in the first inning, which they had done in the first two games. They did it again against Essex, scoring a run in the top of the first.
Lead-off batter Alexander Crittenden reached on an error and was sacrificed to second by Kevin Walsh. Morgan Thomas was hit by a pitch. With runners on first and second, Travis Myers doubled Crittenden home.
Shane Bristow took the mound for Middlesex and allowed a run in 1 1/3 innings of work. He was relieved by Harley Moore, who allowed 3 hits and 1 run while striking out 3 in 5 2/3 innings.
Moore did his part at the plate as well. He had 2 singles and scored 2 runs for Middlesex.
Defense proved to be another key in the win against Essex. Middlesex committed only 1 error in the game compared to 6 errors by Essex. Key putouts by Middlesex, and base-running mistakes by Essex proved crucial in the low-scoring affair.
Thomas and Crittenden led the defensive effort with 4 putouts apiece, and Thomas had one assisted putout.
At the plate for Middlesex, Crittenden walked and scored a run; K. Walsh had 2 sacrifices; Thomas was hit by a pitch; Myers walked, hit a double, scored a run, and had an RBI; Mason Goodrich was hit by a pitch twice; Moore had two singles, walked, and scored a run; Robbie Pitts had an RBI; Cody Hunter singled; and John Walsh had a sacrifice.
Check http://www.SSentinel.com throughout the state tournament for scores and updates on Middlesex’s games.