PITTSBURG — The Pittsburg 13-and-under all-star baseball team punched its ticket to the Babe Ruth state tournament with an 11-1 victory over Frontenac on Friday.
After handing Frontenac its first loss of the double-elimination tournament on Thursday, Pittsburg ended any potential drama by winning the rematch on Friday to claim the district title.
“For a lot of these players, this is their third consecutive district championship,” Pittsburg head coach Mike Farrington said. “There’s a lot of pride that comes with being able to win it here in Pittsburg. It’s a really cool experience for a lot of these guys. We had really good fan participation and it’s a big deal.”
Frontenac drew first blood with a run in the opening frame, but Pittsburg quickly took control of the contest with six runs in the early going en route to the win.
“We started a little slow and just a little lethargic,” Farrington said. “They bounced back and started putting hits together. As we got into the second and third inning, we started putting some more stuff together and throwing more strikes.”
Frontenac scored the game’s first run in the opening inning on an RBI double to right-center field by Jackson Powell, but fell behind 2-1 after Pittsburg crossed the plate twice in the bottom half of the frame.
Braden Benson scored the first run for Pittsburg on a double to left field by Cooper Hayden, who later crossed the plate on a single to right field off the bat of Austin McKechnie.
Pittsburg tallied a third run in the second inning, before scoring a trio of runs in third inning to extend the lead to 6-1.
The three-run inning was highlighted by an RBI double to left field by Hayden and included an RBI single to left field from Cale Farrington.
Benson scored his third run of the game in the fifth inning by capitalizing on an error, before Pittsburg added four more insurance runs in the sixth — two coming on RBI singles by Seth Gann and Tyler Sutton — and held on for the win in the seventh.
Benson was a big part of the win, going 1-for-2 with three runs scored and two walks at the plate, while earning one strikeout through two scoreless innings on the mound.
Hayden also had a big game for Pittbsurg, driving in two runs on two hits with three runs scored.
Frontenac’s Powell was seeing the ball well, going 2-for-3 with an RBI.
FRONTENAC ELIMINATES COLUMBUS
Friday began with a feeling of Deja Vu, as Frontenac matched up with Columbus for the second day in a row, winning 9-2 before going on to lose to Pittsburg.
It was win or go home on Friday for both teams in the elimination game, but Frontenac stayed alive with a seven-run victory.
“It was a better quality baseball game than our first meeting,” Frontenac head coach John Cleland said. “Aaron Doria threw a tremendous game for us and that set the tone really early. We were also better defensively tonight. Trent Hemby had an excellent game in the field and being good defensively helps us play well offensively. It was a quality baseball game for us tonight.”
Frontenac hit the ground running, scoring three runs in the first inning — with one coming on an RBI single through the left side of the infield by Powell — to go up 3-0.
A leadoff home run off the bat of Powell and an RBI single by Hemby in the third inning put Frontenac up 5-0.
Frontenac followed it up with four runs in the fourth inning to gain its largest lead of the contest at 9-0.
The fourth inning was highlighted by an RBI single through the right side of the infield by Collin McCartney.
Columbus scored two runs in the sixth inning, but came short of closing the gap.
Doria was named the MVP of the game, earning five strikeouts through 5.2 innings of work on the mound.
Hemby was awarded the WOW award, driving in one run on one hit with a walk.
Pittsburg will play in game one of the state tournament at 5 p.m. on Friday in Frontenac.
— Jordan Buckamneer is the sports editor of the Pittsburg Morning Sun. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @jbuckamneer.