By Carl Holcomb
Tennessee-Goodlettsville rallied from a 3-1 deficit to eliminate West Virginia-Moorefield 5-3 in the Junior League Baseball Southeastern Regional in Fort Myers, Fla. on Sunday morning.
“As far as the game today, we made some mistakes that are uncharacteristic of us. We didn’t hit the ball. We certainly didn’t see pitching that was any better than what we’ve seen in our first 12 games coming through. The heat and playing the hot game yesterday afternoon, then having to turning around and play again this morning may have had some bearing on it or not. We definitely did not have as much zip to us as we’ve had to get to this point. We’re still proud to be state champions of West Virginia and that’s something that can never be taken away from these boys.
I’m proud of the way they competed in their attitudes and work ethic. We come from a town of 2,500 to 3,000 people and we had an 18-hour drive here. We have a long drive home and will have a warm reception by the local folks,” West Virginia manager Kevin Reed stated during the Little League Junior Baseball Southeastern Regional Tournament interview session.
West Virginia’s Kennan Mongold connected for a leadoff single to right field off Tennessee pitcher Lewis.
Mongold stole second base, then Branson See flew out before Isaac Van Meter drew a full-count walk.
West Virginia wasn’t able to score as Tennessee turned a double play as second baseman Sipe collected a grounder by Hayden Baldwin and Van Meter was out advancing to second base as Mongold remained there.
[private] In the bottom of the first inning, Baldwin issued a walk to Tennessee’s Fleming and Powell singled to Mason Ours at third base.
Lewis hit into a fielder’s choice collected by Branson See at second base with runners now on the corners.
Fleming scored on an error by West Virginia first baseman Karson Reed for a 1-0 edge, then Duffer grounded into a fielder’s choice out at second base from Mongold to See.
“It was a great game. I’m sure it was fun to watch,” Tennessee coach Todd Fleming noted.
“It was a little tough to watch from our perspective. We jumped out to a 1-0 lead and felt good about it, but our pitching struggled and spotted them three real quick and we were back on our heels. Our hitting was stellar today and that’s one thing we missed in our loss to Virginia. Our defense stepped up and made nice plays. We made timely hits and finally took the lead and held it.”
Langston made an infield single before Baldwin closed the inning with a strikeout.
West Virginia answered with three runs in the second inning.
Ours drew a leadoff walk, then Reed singled to right field.
After a strikeout, Garrett Strickler was given a free pass which loaded the bases.
West Virginia tied the game on a walk to Jaydon See.
Kennan Mongold hit into a fielder’s choice with See out at second base as Reed scored and Strickler came home on the late throw for a 3-1 West Virginia advantage.
Mongold advanced on that sequence and was stranded moments later on a groundout.
Baldwin struck out Tennessee’s Jackson, then walked Sipe before Ours fielded two groundouts over to Reed.
West Virginia couldn’t get on base in the third inning as Van Meter hit a line drive to first base, then Baldwin and Ours grounded out.
Powell grounded out to Branson See, then Baldwin struck out Lewis.
Duffer singled down the third base line, but was stranded on a strikeout.
West Virginia came up empty in the fourth inning as Reed popped out to shortstop Fleming, Powell struck out Gavin Wolfe and Garrett Strickler flew out to right fielder Clements.
Tennessee put on the rally caps scoring four runs in the fourth inning for a 5-3 advantage.
Angela was hit by a pitch, then Jackson singled to left field putting runners on the corners.
Sipe hit a single into center field and Sipe advanced to third base on the errant throw by Strickler allowing two runs to score.
Jackson raced home on a wild pitch to put Tennessee up 4-3.
Fleming beat the throw to first base for a single, then Clements scored on a pitch for a 5-3 lead.
Lewis grounded out and Baldwin notched a strikeout to end the frame.
Coleman Mongold was issued a leadoff walk in the fifth inning, then Kennan Mongold hit into a fielder’s choice and advanced around to third base on errors before See struck out and Van Meter popped out.
Tennessee went down in order on a pop-out to Van Meter, then Baldwin pitched a strikeout and fielded a groundout.
West Virginia wasn’t able to produce a base runner as Baldwin grounded out to Powell on the mound, Frederick flew out to center field and John Lahmeyer grounded out to second base.
Strickler took the mound in the seventh inning for West Virginia after a solid effort by Baldwin.
Strickler induced two Tennessee groundouts to See and Van Meter sandwiching a fly out by Clements to Wolfe in right field.
West Virginia had one more opportunity to regain the lead, but Tennessee closed the door.
Wolfe grounded out to Powell, Strickler struck out and Coleman Mongold grounded out to Sipe ending the game.
West Virginia played with tremendous heart and outstanding sportsmanship throughout the Southeastern Regional Tournament and returns home as the defending state champions.