Two games played on Friday evening at Jim Ensor Field in the Carter County American Little League offered contrast in style and action as Big John’s opened with a 13-3 win over Beef ‘O’ Brady’s and Mallard Cove escaped a pitchers duel with a 2-1 win over Doe Valley in the nightcap.
Blake King and Holston Howard locked up in a pitchers duel, with both youngsters showing good pitch location and velocity. King struck out 13 for Mallard Cove in his five and one third innings of work while his counterpart Howard whiffed 11 in his five and two thirds frames.
“The scorekeeper told me that King had thrown something like 19 straight strikes,” said Mallard Cove coach Joe Jamison. “Blake threw strikes all night. It was a tough game, but we come away feeling pretty good about it. It’s a good win.
“Right now, we are in the middle of the pack at 6-6, and trying to move our way up, but this was our fifth win in a row so we are moving in the right direction.”
The ducks scored a run in the top of the first on a one-out base hit from King, followed by a stolen base and King scoring on a ground ball off the bat of Hunter Davenport for a 1-0 lead.
Doe Valley struck for the tying run in their half of the frame as Howard drew a leadoff walk, went to second on a wild pitch and scored on an errant throw by King to even the score at 1-1.
“I think it says a lot for them to throw their best pitcher at us,” said coach and Milligan baseball Hall of Fame catcher Thomas Dillard. “The big thing is we have a lot of 9-yearolds on this team that haven’t seen a lot of pitching. I think this is going to be a very good team in the next couple of years.”
Neither team would crack the scoreboard again until late as both pitchers worked hard to keep runners off the bases by strikeout or with sparkling play in the field.
Mallard Cove ran itself out of an inning in the third when Ryan Browder singled to left, where Laken Barnett bobbled the ball momentarily. Browder tried to stretch the hit to a double, but Barnett gunned him down with a strong throw to second baseman Noah Lambert for the out.
King then ripped a single to center field, but right fielder Ian Thompson made a nice play on a liner off the bat of Davenport to end the threat.
“We stress fundamentals with these kids,” Dillard said. “Everything else will take care of itself. If we can get them fundamentally sound, the hitting will come with more at-bats. These kids hustle and really enjoy playing the game.”
Both pitchers struck out the opposing side twice in this contest and no runner reached scoring position while the two starters were in the game until the final stanza.
In the top of the sixth, King reached on a one-out hit to left and went to second on a wild pitch. Davenport struck out, but Stewart Guess drilled a Howard offering into center for a run-scoring single that plated King to give Mallard Cove a 2-1 lead.
After striking out Micah Nix to open the sixth, King reached his pitch limit and was relieved by Joe Jamison who was greeted with a single by Barnett. Jamison then retied Skyler Hilton on a ground ball to first and got Lambert to bounce back to the mound for the final out.
Big John’s ………………….. 13 Beef ‘O’ Brady’s ……………. 3
Big John’s brought out the big lumber as two players tallied insidethe- park home runs — and the lumber men rolled. Keelan Hall belted a two-run inside-the-parker when he blasted a pitch from Beef ‘O’ Brady starter Ericka Potter to the base of the fence in right field after a leadoff walk to William Livingston.
The hits kept on coming for the closeout kings as Timber Shaw, Kaleb Croy and Garrett Stiltner each had RBI hits in Big John’s six run first inning uprising.
The Brady’s got a run back in the top of the second as Potter walked and stole second. She was moved to third by Dale Potter’s infield hit and scored on the back end of a double steal to make it a 6-1 contest.
Big John’s added a five spot in the last of the second with Stiltner driving in two more runs with his second hit of the game to make it an 11-1 game.
Lane Potter had a RBI hit for Beef ‘O’ Brady in the third and Alex Norwood’s RBI ground out was the last scoring the Brady’s would muster.
In the bottom of the third, catcher Wyatt Lyons hit a rope the other way to left field and circled the bases, easily ahead of the relay throw for the final margin of victory.
Game 1 Beef ‘O’ Brady’s 012 0 — 3 Big John’s 652 x — 13 W—Mark Tester. L—Ericka Potter. HR— Keelan Hall, Wyatt Lyons.
Game 2 Mallard Cove 100 001 — 2 Doe Valley 100 000 — 1 W—Blake King. L—Holston Howard.