On paper, the Martinez-Evans Little League championship game looked like it might not be a game at all.
But both teams and the fans who gathered at Kelly Field knew better.
The undefeated Astros survived a scare to beat the Braves 11-6 on Monday to claim the Major League Division championship.
The Astros finished 17-0. They'd beaten the Braves by more than 10 runs during the regular season. But after the top of the second, the Braves held a six-run cushion and looked unbeatable.
"The first time they played us, they killed us," Braves pitcher Dalton Shibe said. "When we came out, we were thinking about that last game, but we were thinking we could win."
The Braves were playing with nine players, with three on vacation. They didn't expect to make it to the championship game. Neither did the Astros, who have been solid the past few seasons but were making their first appearance in the title game.
"I expected it to be a dogfight, without a question," Astros coach Carl Corley said. "They didn't let me down."
The Astros fended off the upset and all of their runs came with two outs. They pushed across three runs in the second, one in the fourth and seven in the fifth to take the lead for good.
When the final out was recorded, the Astros celebrated their undefeated season with a dog pile just inside the first-base line. Players threw water on each other once outside the diamond, and Corley was doused with ice.
"That was just a great Little League baseball game," Corley said.
The Braves retreated to their dugout after shaking hands and offered encouraging words to each other after pushing the Astros to the brink.
Their first batter, Seth Carter, scored a run. The Braves scored five in the top of the second inning before the Astros brought in pitcher Chandler Corley.
Corley held the Braves scoreless from there, striking out eight and allowing just one hit.
At the plate, the Astros chipped away, closing with the barrage in the fifth.
"I was just telling the team to hang in there," Carl Corley said. "We've had to battle back several times."
Chandler Corley finished 3-for-4 with three doubles. Astros outfielder Franklin Porhonish was 2-for-3 with two doubles.
For the Braves, Shibe was 1-for-2 and Ray Sherman went 2-for-4.
Shibe struck out four.
"At the beginning of the season, we knew we wanted to be here," Shibe said. "When we got (up) 6-0, I guess we got a little too happy."
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