July 4, 2012 7:00 a.m. —
There’s no time limit in baseball.
“It’s six innings,” said Joe Banister, head coach of the McLane 9 & 10 Year Old All-star team. “And you keep playing until they say that’s the ball game.”
Banister’s team proved that persistence pays off as McLane scored five runs in the fifth inning while moving on to the District 1 championship game with a 10-5 victory over Conneaut Valley on Tuesday at the Crawford County Fairgrounds.
“The boys, they just keep battling,” said Banister. “They keep going and keep battling. That’s the thing, they are all working together and playing hard together.”
McLane now faces Cochranton in the championship game, which is scheduled for Thursday at 6 p.m. back at the fairgrounds. Cochranton defeated McLane 10-4 on June 29.
“We’re hoping to win,” said Banister. “And if we win we get to play them again on Friday. But they can do it. Every one of these boys are talented.”
Conneaut Valley, meanwhile, ends a terrific run through the all-star tournament.
“We went to the championship game of the winners’ bracket and the championship game of the losers’ bracket,” said Valley head coach Brian Boyce. “So we were a few runs shy of getting back and playing Cochranton again. We were looking forward to that. We definitely owed them a better game.”
Valley was dropped into the losers’ bracket with a 16-3 loss to Cochranton on Monday.
“The kids have had an excellent season,” said Boyce. “It’s an excellent group. I’ve had most of these kids since tee ball. So they’ve played together for a long time. They’re very competitive, very athletic kids.”
Valley certainly got off on the right foot against McLane. In the bottom of the first, Alex Brown led off with an RBI double to right field. Zack Keil and Eli Boyce followed with back-to-back singles. Trey Gable drove in a run with a ground ball. And Connor Strait made it 3-0 with a tomahawk-chop single to right to drive in a run.
McLane answered right back with a three-spot in the top of the second. Samuel Petkac singled and scored on an error. Billy Jukes walked and scored on another error. And Eli Bruce walked and scored on a grounder by Grady Johnson.
Valley retook the lead with two runs in the bottom of the second. Connor Pacansky and Brady Birtkidus drew back-to-back walks. Brown singled to load the bases. And Keil had his second hit of the day, forcing a run home. Later, Gable coaxed a bases loaded walk to send in the second run.
McLane waited until the fourth inning to respond. Seth Faulkner led the inning off with a single, then scored on a double by Johnson. Then Tanner Daniels brought Johnson in with a single to center field.
McLane finally took the lead with a big fifth inning. Eric Mathews led off with a single. Petkac then walked to put two aboard. Then Jukes brought both runners home with a triple down the first base line. Bruce then brought Jukes home with a grounder.
Two outs later, Johnson reached on a base on balls. Then Taylor Myers sent a shot to right that got away from the outfielder, allowing Johnson to score and Myers to come all the way around for an inside-the-park home run.
“I wasn’t stopping him at third,” said Banister. “It had to be a perfect play at home. And (Myers) deserved it. It was awesome.”
Meanwhile, McLane’s relief pitchers — Johnson, Mathews and Daniels — kept Valley’s offense off the scoreboard. Valley had just one base hit after the second inning.
Mathews earned the win. He was on the mound for the final out of the fourth inning, and then McLane took the lead in the next at-bat. In two innings of work, Mathews allowed one hit, walked one and struck out three.
“We have depth on this team. That’s what I’m so proud of,” said Banister. “Each one just steps up and fills in for the next guy and it just keeps going. They pick up where they left off and keep battling.”
July 4, 2012 7:00 a.m. —
There’s no time limit in baseball.
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