LITTLE LEAGUE: Braves claim junior crown

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Team earns trip to Reds game with 15-7 win over White Sox in finals

By Metz Camfield

The Anderson County Braves earned a trip to see the Cincinnati Reds.

After a 15-7 victory over the White Sox in the Anderson County Little League junior division championship game, Braves manager Bryan Brothers vowed to hold up his promise from the beginning of the year that if the Braves won it all he would take them to Cincinnati to see a Reds game.

“It feels great,” Brothers said. “These guys have put in a lot of hard work and put in a lot of hours in getting here and I’m happy we came out the way we did. That was a great turnout for a really good season.”

The Braves trailed the White Sox as they entered the bottom half of the fourth inning, but put a dozen runs on the board in the game’s final three innings to dispatch the White Sox.

The Braves got on the board first in the opening inning. With runners on the corners, Brayden Russell hit an RBI-single, driving home Hunter Campbell.

The White Sox evened things up in the third inning. With the bases loaded Eli Castle drew a walk, scoring Chris Sea from third base.

The Braves took the lead back in the bottom half of the third inning. With two outs away, Chris Toomey hit a triple. The throw to try and get Toomey out at third base got away however, and Toomey was able to trot home for the Braves’ second run.

Later, after Brady Sawyer and Russell reached base on a single and walk, respectively, Jacob Brumley hit a single to bring home Sawyer to give the Braves a two-run cushion.

The two teams continued to trade the lead in the fourth.

The White Sox put together a two-out rally after Dillon Harrod hit a stand-up double to center field which brought home Sea from second base. Keaton Walker then tied the game by bringing home Harrod with a double to left-center field. Then, after two walks loaded the bases, Seth Way stood patiently at the plate and drew another walk to bring home Walker from third base to give the White Sox a 4-3 lead.

Brothers, noting the White Sox were in a little bit of a bind on pitch counts from previous games, said he was just trying to think of ways for the Braves to produce some runs.

The Braves followed through and took the lead for good in the bottom half of the inning. With runners on second and third and one out down, Cole Labhart hit a two-RBI double, deep to left field scoring Tyger Gilkison and Campbell. Toomey then got a base hit to score Labhart. The hot bats continued for the Braves as Sawyer got a base hit that scored Toomey.

The Braves extended their lead in the fifth inning by having a good eye at the plate. Toomey, Sawyer and Russell each drew walks with the bases loaded, bringing home three runs to give the Braves a 10-4 lead. Standing on third base, Toomey sprinted home after a wild pitch.

With a seven-run lead going into the sixth, the championship seemed to be well within the grasp of the Braves players. The White Sox refused to let down though.

Emulating what the Braves had just done in the fifth inning, the White Sox too stood patiently at the plate and drew six consecutive walks to cut their seven-run deficit to four with the bases loaded and only one out away.

That’s when Braves third baseman Hunter Campbell made the play of the game.

With the Braves’ lead continuing to be trimmed batter after batter, Campbell stepped up and fielded a well-hit ground ball by the White Sox’s Kevin Monroe. Campbell quickly stepped over to tag third base for one force out. Campbell then checked home and decided it was too late, only to turn and gun a perfect strike over to first base to get Monroe and not only end the White Sox rally, but end the inning.

“That was a huge play,” Brothers said. “That got us out of an inning that could have given them three or four more runs right there. That was huge. Hunter is a great player. The good thing about this team is that all these kids have listened to the instructions we’ve given them. … It’s been great to watch the progress they’ve made.”

Campbell said he hadn’t made that play before, but wanted to make a double play all season.

“It just felt great,” Campbell said. “I was getting kind of nervous when they started getting all the runs. But when I got the double play it just felt great.”

The Braves added four insurance runs in the bottom of the sixth thanks in part to an RBI-single from Toomey to shallow left field. It was Toomey’s fourth RBI of the game. The other three runs of the inning came off walks with the bases loaded.

“It feels great,” Labhart said. “Now we can kick back, relax and wait until next year.”

Despite it being the first season for Brothers as manager, the Braves finished the season with a sterling 15-3 overall record and will head to Cincinnati for the Reds’ game against none other than the Atlanta Braves.

“We’re all baseball fans, we all love the game,” Brothers said. “It was my hope to take them just to see the Reds play but as it turns out we’re going to get to see them play against the Braves so that’s even better.”

E-mail Metz Camfield at mcamfield@theandersonnews.com.