C-K boys top Milton
BARBOURSVILLE -- There's clutch and then there's the dramatics Logan Caldwell pulled Tuesday night to will the Ceredo-Kenova age 9-10 All-Stars over Milton, 14-13, to take the Little League Baseball District 1 runner-up game and advance to the state tournament.
Ridiculously gutsy moment No. 1: With none out in the bottom of the fifth inning and C-K clinging to a one-run lead, Milton's Trey Chapman, with the bases loaded, knocked a fly ball to shallow center field. Caldwell, with eyes tracking the baseball the entire time, properly camped under it and gloved the thing.
But his job wasn't done.
Milton's Matthew Dean was tagging up from third base with his sights on tying the game. .. until the rocket came from Caldwell's right arm.
C-K catcher Doug Nester caught the throw and held his ground in front of home plate swiping Dean before his slide could sneak underneath.
C-K pitcher Cameron Hodge then stuck out the next Milton batter to end the threat with two left on.
Ice-in-his-veins moment No. 2: After adding some insurance runs in the top of sixth inning, C-K went to the bottom of the sixth up three, 14-11.
But then again, this is Little League Baseball when a three-run lead makes coaches sweat just the same as a tie game.
So after four walks in five batters, the C-K advantage was trimmed to two when coach Craig Brumfield called to, who else but Caldwell as a relief pitcher to try to wiggle the team's way out a tremendous jam.
The bases were loaded. One out.
It didn't start off well. A quick passed ball brought Jacob Caudill home.
But another passed ball was gobbled up by Nester in time to throw to Caldwell to tag Nolan Cyrus.
Two out. The score remained 14-13.
And Caldwell came through again, getting the next batter to ground out to third.
Game over. C-K's headed to states.
Fittingly, Brumfield began the celebration by running to the mound and swinging Caldwell around in pure joy.
"Huge," he said of Caldwell's catch and throw in the fifth. "Absolutely huge. He comes in on the ball.
"He's a great center fielder and I've been telling him all the time, 'Every ball in the air out there is yours. You call anybody off to go catch it.' And then he showed off his arm.
"He threw a strike. Dougie caught it. The kid still wasn't at the plate. Dougie stayed in front of the plate. I'm telling you, Doug's got guts. That kid is one of the best offensive linemen in the state of West Virginia for that age group.
"He blocked that plate."
And as for the final out, just how much was Brumfield pacing?
"I pace a lot anyway," he said. "It doesn't matter if we're up 15 or down 10, I pace a lot anyway. I have a lot of nervous energy.
"But, yeah, I was sweating it out there."
But his boys came through -- all of them. Besides Caldwell in the field, C-K displayed power at the plate in all parts of its lineup.
Clayton Sharp was 2-for-4 with a pair of RBIs. Hunter Bellomy, who fielded the final out, also had two RBIs. Cody Sharp had four RBIs. Nester went 3-for-5 with a pair of doubles and one batted in.
All in all, it was a total C-K team effort, which takes Brumfield's bunch to the state tournament beginning July 15 at Huntington League 3.
It out-slugged a talented Milton squad, led by Josh Murrell's 2-for-3, three RBI-effort. It also got RBIs from Dean, Tyler Crank, Chapman (two), Lowe (two) as well as three hits from Cyrus.
"I just can't be more proud," said an emotional Brumfield moments after he got the celebratory water bucket dump from his players.
CEREDO-KENOVA 410 432 -- 14 17 1
MILTON 204 322 -- 13 11 8
Akers, Hodge (4), Bellomy (6), Caldwell (6) and Hodge, Nester (4). Chapman, Lowe (5) and Lowe, Kessler (5).
Hitting: (CK) Clay. Sharp 2-4, 2 RBIs; Akers 2B, RBI; Bellomy 2B, 2 RBIs; Nester 3-5, 2 2Bs, RBI; Cody Sharp 3-5, 4 RBIs; Ferguson 2B, RBI; Hodge RBI. (M) Cyrus 3-4; Dean RBI; Crank 2-4, RBI; Chapman 2 RBIs; Lowe 2 RBIs; Murrell 2-3, 3 RBIs.