A given heading into the Little League District 6 championships hosted by Martinez Evans Little League on Saturday, a MELL team will defend the state title won by the 10-11 age group in 2013.
The 9-10 and 10-11 district competitions began early Saturday morning at Crawford Creek Park. The 10-11 bracket featured just two teams – the MELL Nationals and the MELL Americans.
On Saturday, Jackson Boggs pitched a one-hitter, gave up two runs and had three hits as the MELL Nationals beat the MELL Americans, 8-4. Needing a win to stay alive in the best-of-three series, the Americans jumped out to a 2-0 lead on Sunday afternoon but the Nationals were too strong, coming back to win 16-7. Evan Thomas pitched four innings and got the win.
“I knew it was a matter of time and our bats came alive today,” said Nationals’ manager Todd Sturgell of Sunday’s win.
The Nationals advanced to the state tournament in Cartersville, Ga. with pool play beginning on July 12.
On Saturday, the Nationals got second-inning doubles from Hayden Stokes and Brantley Paquette to take a 1-0 lead and that would be more than enough for Boggs, who cruised into the sixth inning. The Americans drew two walks and broke up the no-hitter with a George Whitley infield single. Two outs later, facing Thomas, Conner Boan hit a two-run home run but that would be as close as the Americans would come.
In the 9-10 bracket, MELL entered with three teams in the eight-team double-elimination tournament and two were still alive heading into Monday night’s action.
The MELL Americans started with a 15-8 win over Oglethorpe County on Saturday, beat Washington-Wilkes on Sunday and were set to face Elbert County on Monday night in the winner’s bracket. After losing 6-4 to East Athens on Saturday, the MELL Nationals stayed alive with a win over Masters City on Sunday and were slated to face Washington-Wilkes on Monday. The MELL Patriots lost 14-2 to Washington-Wilkes on Saturday and fell to Oglethorpe County on Sunday and were knocked out of the tournament.
Americans’ manager Mike Daly said he has a group of talented players and that getting to stay in the winner’s bracket is huge.
“If you come out of the winner’s bracket you only have to play four games to win it all. If you come out of the loser’s bracket you have to win six,” Daly said.
Against Oglethorpe County on Saturday, the Americans trailed 6-5 heading into the fourth inning. They broke the game open with two outs, scoring seven runs to take a 12-6 lead. The big hit in the inning was the second of Reid Akins’ two hits, a three-run homer.
“We were hitting the ball and making plays on defense,” said Akins’ twin brother Riley.