The Masters City Little League played host to the 27th annual City Tournament in late May with 21 teams from three Augusta-area Little Leagues competing in the single-elimination tournament for the title of city champions.
The Martinez-Evans Cardinals soared high over the competition, taking home the title after defeating the Martinez-Evans Braves 3-2.
Barry Hall, who has been a coach with the West Augusta Little League for 14 years, said the city tournament is a good experience for the players.
"It's fun for the kids to stand on the field line while the national anthem is played," Hall said. "They like going to new places and playing on different fields. It's also good for them to compete with players they don't normally play against."
Hall said his team, the Athletics, had a "good tournament." Athletics pitcher Chandler Hall hit a home run in the first game. The Athletics advanced "farther (in the tournament) than any west Augusta team has ever gone before" - to the semi-finals. They lost game 6-1 to the Martinez-Evans Braves.
The Martinez-Evans Braves won 2-1 against the Martinez-Evans Orioles before advancing to the semifinals.
"It was our most outstanding game," said Greg Smith, Braves' coach. "We scored two runs in the first inning and then held them the rest of the game."
The Masters City Cubs also advanced to the semifinals, where they played the Martinez-Evans Cardinals. The Cubs scored one run off three hits; one of the sluggers was Mike Holly, who also pitched the entire game. The other hits came from catcher Shawn McCain and third-baseman Alex McKellar, who also drove in the team's only run. The Cardinals won 2-1.
"It's the best Little League game I've ever been involved in, and I've been in it 20 years," said Ellis McCain, the Cubs' coach. "It's my opinion that the two best teams in the tournament were the Cubs and the Cardinals. But I guess the tournament didn't turn out that way."
The tournament bracket showed the two best teams in the city area as the Braves and the Cardinals, both of Martinez-Evans.
The two teams played for the championship May 31 at Harold Foss Park on Phinizy Road.
Bill Gooding, manager for the Cardinals, said it was a tough tournament.
The Cardinals won three games by only one run and two games by two runs in the tournament.
Cardinals pitcher Brandon Paul pitched two complete games and had three game-winning hits in the tournament. He was the catcher in the championship game.
"Without him, we couldn't win the tournament," Gooding said of Paul.
Bravesmanager Greg Smith said he has never made it to a championship game before. The Braves scored two runs off four hits with Ryan Hutchins pitching all six innings.
"Ryan pitched the best game he's pitched all year," he said. "He only gave up one hit. It was a good ball game."
Gooding has been in the Little League for 24 years and won 10 city titles.
"I'm a marked man because I've done it so long," he said. "So I try to hold my team together because everybody tries to gun 'em down."
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