WEST MEAD TOWNSHIP — The Northwest All-Stars just weren’t out of it. Or at least they never showed any signs of being down.
Despite trailing 11-4 in the bottom of the fifth with two outs, Northwest exploded for 11 runs without an out to retake the lead over Meadville.
In the District 1 8-10 Year Old baseball title game on Wednesday night at the Crawford County Fairground Fields, Northwest held on to claim the championship 15-13 in what was a back-and-forth instant classic.
“(My players) battle, they don’t ever give up,” said Northwest head coach John Carr. “They came here to win this and that’s what they did.”
“What a fantastic game,” added Meadville head coach Keith Grubbs. “This is what little league is all about. This was so much fun to watch a game like this and coach in a game like this.”
The game was tight early on. Meadville punched first with two runs in the top of the firs. Kale Armstrong walked and Ian Miller hit him home with a triple to deep center. Miller then scored off an RBI groundout hit by Nate Bethune to make it 2-0
Northwest, however, responded immediately tallying three runs in the bottom half of the first. Max Carr reached on an error and Wyatt Luke doubled to put runners in scoring position. Alex O’Grady then crushed a ball to center field which was dropped, scoring Carr and Luke. O’Grady followed them home on a wild pitch.
After Meadville retook the lead in the top of the second, Northwest once again answered with a run in the bottom of the third to tie it up 4-4. Luke brought home Carr with an RBI base knock.
An error in the top of the fourth gave Meadville a 5-4 advantage and in the next inning, the young Bulldogs opened the game up, or so they thought.
Singles from Ryan Fabian and Noah Young opened the fifth inning. Then, Jacob Lauer hit into a fielder’s choice, but Fabian slide under the tag at home plate to score. Next, Young scored off a wild pitch. After two walks the bases were loaded and Miller was intentionally walked to avoid a big hit.
Bethune made Northwest pay with a base hit to score Armstrong to make it 9-4. A passed ball allowed Patrick Mahoney to trot home and a wild pitch scored Miller for the 11-4 lead.
It was an uncharacteristic inning for the Northwest team.
“When they’re this age, 8 to 10 years old, you don’t know what you’re going to get from day to day,” said coach Carr. “But they came through and did a good job.”
The bats and discipline at the plate definitely showed up for Northwest in the bottom half of the inning. After two quick outs, NW was in trouble, but Carr drew a walk to get the long rally started.
11 straight batters would walk up to the box and 11 straight players would end up scoring. Luke followed Carr with a double to center field. After an error in the infield scored Carr, Luke scored off an RBI single from Asher Johnson.
O’Grady was plated on a passed ball and Johnson stole home to make it 11-8.
After three straight walks and a wild pitch, it was 11-9 with two runners in scoring position. Caiden Loucks stepped up and delivered the tying runs with a base knock into right field.
“(Northwest) hits the ball. They hit the ball hard,” said coach Grubbs.
Loucks scored the next run off an error to give Northwest the lead 12-11. Carr drew a walk setting up two runners for Luke who once again doubled, this time to left to bring home two more tallies. O’Grady singled him in to make it 15-11 before the final frame.
Meadville made noise in the sixth. With the bases loaded following two walks and an error, Northwest pitcher got the first out at home on a fielder’s choice. Then a hard hit ball from Armstrong looked to be extra-bases in right, but Owen Grafton reached down for the nice basket catch for out two.
“That was an amazing catch in right field for sure,” said coach Carr.
“The right fielder made that play, I thought we were getting two runs there,” added coach Grubbs.
After two straight run-scoring walks, Loucks got the final strikeout to seal the title for Northwest.
For Meadville, Miller led the offense with four RBIs despite only hitting once. He was intentionally walked three times with the bases loaded. Bethune followed with two RBIs and Lauer added one.
Miller also had a quality outing on the mound despite the no-decision. He went five and a third allowing just three hits, one walk and one earned run. Miller fanned 10 Northwest batters.
For Northwest, Luke was 4-for-4 with three doubles, three RBIs and three runs. Loucks tallied two RBIs and a run. O’Grady scored twice and registered an RBI. Johnson was 1-for-4 with a run and an RBI.
Jordan Hansgen can be reached at 724-6370 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.