Two fireball pitchers took the hill on Tuesday evening and dominated as expected when Cline Holder and Big John’s squared off in Carter County American Little League action Tuesday at Jim Ensor Field.
In the last of the eighth inning Lawson Wagner’s base knock over a drawn in infield plated Keelan Hall and gave Big John’s a thrilling 4-3 win to give Hall the win in relief of lefty starter Wyatt Lyons.
“We’re pretty deep in pitching,” said Big John’s manager Doug Hartley. “We are fortunate in that regard. We could have gone two or three different ways tonight, but we really wanted to give Keelan an opportunity in relief.”
Cline Holder starter John Ramsey pitched a superb game, mixing a blazing fastball with a nice change-of-pace to strike out 16 Big John’s batters before the pitch count got him and Kevin Whitaker came on in relief in the last of the sixth.
Ramsey struck out the side in every inning he pitched and gave up one run on three hits in five and one third innings of work.
“If Ramsey hadn’t hit his pitch count I think it would have been over for us,” Hartley said. “He was going very well.”
Big John’s reached Ramsey for a run in the first when Hall doubled to left, stole third and came home on a wild pitch.
Cline Holder took the lead in the top of the third against Lyons as Devon Ramsey walked and was wild pitched to second. Kade Hensley drew a walk and Devon Ramsey scored on a wild pitch.
John Ramsey then drove a single to left to plate the second run of the frame and give Cline Holder a 2-1 lead.
Both Ramsey and Lyons got through the fifth before Hall ran into trouble in the sixth – his first inning of relief. For the game Lyons gave up two runs on two hits while striking out 12 and walking two.
In the sixth John Ramsey singled to left with one out and went to third on wild pitches. Eli Reece walked putting runners on second and third after Reece swiped second without a throw.
Ramsey scored on a passed ball to give Cline Holder a 3-1 lead, needing three outs for the win.
In the last of the sixth Big John’s showed some grit coming back to knot the score at 3-3 with a two run outburst. Garrett Stiltner reached Ramsey for a single but Ramsey came back and whiffed Hall, but reached his pitch limit at that point and had to leave the game.
Whitaker came on and Wagner greeted him with a two bagger to left field which plated Stiltner to make it a 3-2 game. Wagner moved up to third on a wild pitch and scored on a ground ball out off the bat of Timber Shaw to tie the game at 3-3 and force extra innings.
Both Hall and Whitaker were strong in the seventh and Hall pitched a one-two-three top of the eighth. In the bottom of the frame Hall singled with one out and promptly stole second.
Hall was nearly caught stealing third and may have scored but for a nice backup of third base by Aiden Vines in left for Cline Holder. The ball got past the Holder third sacker but Vines was there and Hall could not advance.
That brought Wagner to the dish and he served a deep fly ball to left that fell in the gap and Big John’s had a nice comeback win under their belt.
“You can always bank on it being a tight game whenever we play Cline Holder,” said Hartley. “This year our top five hitters have been clutch. They have come through with so many big hits for us.”
Usually solid 9-year old right hander Hunter Howard could not find the strike zone walking eight, hitting one batter and giving up a three run double in a 10- run opening inning for David’s Trophies.
Jake Robbins struck a triple to right with the bases loaded and all the runners came home as David’s built a double digit first inning lead. Kellen Murphy also had an RBI hit in the frame.
The trophy guys could not hang on despite the big lead as lefty Issac Slagle also struggled with his control and Doe Valley rallied for two in the last of the first with both runs scoring on bases loaded walks.
In the third an infield error opened the floodgates for a nine-run Doe Valley explosion with Jared Anderson driving in a run. Howard plated two more with a double and an infield hit by Reid Taylor brought home the tying run.
A second error by David’s Trophies let the game winner come around from second and close out the contest.