ALCOLA — In a nail-biter, Indiana was able to survive a las- inning effort by New Bethlehem to take the District 7 Junior Little League All-Star tournament title with a hard-earned 10-9 win at Redbank Valley Municipal Park Monday night.
The lone two D7 all-star entries culminated a three-game series that determined what wound up being the Section 4 champion as well considering the rest of the section had no 13-and-14-year-old teams.
Meaning, Indiana heads to states. This year’s tournament will be hosted by the Lakeview Little League in Stoneboro, in Mercer County, July 25-30. New Bethlehem won last year’s D7 title and advanced straight to states in Cranberry where it finished 0-2.
Monday, Indiana and New Bethlehem put on a show offensively. Not a single inning was completed without at least one of the teams scoring.
New Bethlehem outhit Indiana, 10-8. Four Newbie hitters — Owen Harmon, Ridge Cook, Cam Wagner and Jeffery Douglas raked in eight of the ten knocks with two hits apiece. Douglas also finished the game with four RBIs.
On the mound, Cook gave up only three hits, while surrendering seven walks. Conversely, Wagner relieved him and finished allowing five hits and two walks.
Nevertheless, Indiana scored eight runs in the first three innings, and got out of several bases-loaded jams to secure the victory.
Still, Newbie assistant coach Jeff Douglas said his team never gave in, and was in the game until the final out was recorded.
“Our guys played 100 percent and left it all on the field,” Douglas said. “There were a couple different plays that were the difference in the game for them. A couple of their hits to right field, which gave them those couple extra runs. We left the bases loaded three out of the seven innings and couldn’t produce off of that. That kind of held us up.
Douglas said this year’s squad was very young, having only one returnee, and that their experience should help them become even better next summer.
New Bethlehem struck first as the visiting team via the coin flip, scoring two runs in the top half of the first. Tyler Hetrick and Cam Wagner hit back-to-back singles. Then a walk to Cook brought up Douglas, who singled on a line drive into center field and plated Hetrick and Wagner. A walk of Trevor Rearick loaded the bases, but Indiana pitcher Fox Van Leer was able to get out of it with a strikeout to keep the score at 2-0.
After Indiana answered back to cut the lead in half by scoring a run of its own, Newbie scored two more runs with two outs in the second. Another single by Douglas plated Harmon, who reached on a fielder’s choice. An error allowed Wagner to score from second to account for the other run.
Indiana again answered, taking advantage of two consecutive walks. Then with two outs, Owen Putt singled on a ground ball past third to bring in one run. Van Leer came in to score another on an error.
Indiana scored five runs in the bottom of the third to take the lead, one it would not relinquish. A walk and two passed balls saw Brayden Yanity reach third. Two more walks loaded the bases and Van Leer then walked to tie the game, along with a another walk to Zach Herrington to take the lead. Then, with the biggest swing of the game, Owen Putt brought in three runs with a bases-clearing triple to center.
Newbie had a chance to get out of the third unscathed, but misfired on what would be a double play on a fly ball to right. The throw to first was off-line, allowing the Indiana runner to get back safely. So instead of the following strikeout that would’ve ended the inning, the rally continued.
After scoring two runs in the fourth to bring the score to 8-6, the fifth brought Newbie within one at 8-7.
Owen Harmon scored on an errant throw to third by Indiana catcher Brayden Yanity after the ball went into the outfield. Harmon had singled earlier in the frame and advanced to second after a fielder’s choice ground out, and rounded third after the throw went wide of the third baseman.
The teams were scoreless again until two singles, a walk and a triple by Indiana batters extended the lead to 10-7 heading into the top half of the seventh, Newbie’s final chance to extend the game or get ahead
Cole McHenry led off with a long double to center field. After a flyout, Harmon singled to center to advance Mchenry to third. Wagner grounded hard to second for a fielder’s choice that Indiana turned into an out as scored Mchenry and advanced Harmon to third.
Cook followed with a single to center that scored Harmon and advanced Wagner to second. Down now by only a run at 10-9, a walk of Douglas then loaded the bases. The rally ended there, as Peyton Rearick struck out to end the game.
In last week’s second game of the series:
TUESDAY, July 3
New Bethlehem 7,
At Indiana, sparked by a four-run fourth inning, New Bethlehem evened the series at 1-1 with a one-run win over Indiana.
Tyler Hetrick walked with the bases loaded, and Cam Wagner and Jeffrey Douglas ripped RBI singles in the fourth to take a 7-5 lead.
From there, it hung on for the win as Indiana scored a run to cut it to 7-6 in the bottom of the seventh. With two outs and runners on first and second, Indiana’s would-be tying runner at second drifted off the bag and was picked off by catcher Ridge Cook who fired to Hetrick at second to get the big out.
Cam Wagner and Owen Harmon combined for the win on the mound with Wagner pitching into the fifth inning.
New Bethlehem scored once in the first inning when Cook singled in Harmon. Down 3-1 in the top of the third, it pushed home two runs on Douglas’ two-run single with two outs, setting up New Bethlehem’s go-ahead rally in the fourth.
Cook had three hits while Hetrick, Wagner and Douglas each had two hits. Harmon singled walked three times and scored two runs.