Lightning couldn't strike twice for the Martinez Evans Little League 9-10 All-Star team Thursday night.
After coming back from an early eight-run deficit to beat Washington-Wilkes, 17-11, Wednesday night and stay alive in the Little League District 6 baseball tournament, the MELL Americans faced an early seven-run deficit against Elbert County in Thursday's championship game at Crawford Creek Park.
Elbert County added to its lead with a seven-run fifth inning and beat the Americans 16-4, taking home the title and advancing to the state competition.
"You should be proud of yourselves," Americans' manager Mike Daly told his team after the game, later calling the Elbert County squad a great team.
The Americans lost 11-3 to Elbert County previously and would have had to beat them twice to win the double-elimination tournament. They fell behind 1-0 after Elbert County's first at-bat, but quickly took a 2-1 lead. With one out in the bottom of the first, Riley Akins singled and was doubled home by Mac Daly one out later. Daly would come around to score on an RBI single by Tyler Justice.
The lead would be short-lived, however, as Elbert County struck for eight second-inning runs. Starting pitcher Reid Akins gave up a three-run home run to Carson Adams and then surrendered five more runs with the defense committing two errors behind him.
Down 9-2, the Americans added one in the third as Daly singled and eventually scored on a wild pitch. Reid Akins singled with one out in the fourth inning and scored on Gavin Wright's single as the deficit shrank to 9-4.
Down 16-4, Mike Daly still thought his team had a chance to make a comeback.
"I thought we could do it," Daly said. "These kids have battled all year. They've battled during the regular season. It's their first time playing together. I think we'll come back next year and most of them will be on the 10-11 team and we'll see how they fare there."