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LITTLE LEAGUE: Team effort, clutch defense gives Indians 2-0 win

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By Metz Camfield

Indians manager Paul Mann went to the mound in the sixth inning to finally pull his son Logan Mann. He had gotten far more production out of Logan in the game than he was expecting, but he could tell he was starting to wear out and the Rockies were picking up on his pitches.

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Logan told his dad he was fine. His dad said alright, but was only going to give him two more pitches. The end result was a 79-pitch complete game shutout for a pitcher whose true passion is actually receiving the pitches instead of delivering them, and the Indians got the 2-0 win.

“It’s only (Logan’s) third time on the mound this year and he’s only thrown, I think, the most, three innings, so I knew endurance was going to be a factor,” Paul Mann said. “… If he gave up one walk or I saw that he was getting in trouble (after our visit on the mound in the sixth inning) I was going to pull him.”

Logan struck out the next batter though, and got the final batter to fly out and the game was over.

“It was hard work, but it was a fun time,” Logan said.

The first inning would be the easiest of the afternoon for the Indians. Logan needed only six pitches to retire three Rockies batters, including one strikeout.

The Indians scored their two runs in the second inning, leading off with a double by Hayden Bright. After a walk and a strikeout, Gunnison Coffey hit a two-RBI double, scoring Bright and Logan Mann.

For the defensive enthusiasts, the rest of Sunday afternoon’s game between the Indians and Rockies was one to remember.

Centerfielder Tanner Kirkpatrick caught three balls hit into centerfield, including the game’s final out with men on second and third.

“It’s huge for us,” Paul Mann said. “I think infield play kind of comes along ahead of the outfield. There’s just something about getting the jump on that ball and making the correct judgment on it when it’s in the air. It’s more of a struggle for kids at this age but we have some kids who are starting to show improvement, starting to turn that corner and play with some confidence and I think that’s a big thing that really helps.”

Kirkpatrick wasn’t the only player making plays in the outfield. The Indians arrived at MainSource Field with only eight players due to injury and other obligations. Needing a ninth player to field, the Indians brought up minor leaguer Zack Kincaid of the Storm.

Kincaid made a couple plays in right field, including catching the first out in the sixth inning which kept Brett Thompson on first after leading off the inning with a single.

Paul Mann said Kincaid’s play was huge for them, especially being younger and playing in the Major Leagues.

“Like I told him at the end of the game, I would be intimidated in that situation, but he stepped up and was confident,” Paul Mann said. “Just the fact that he even came to play, much less play the entire game and make huge plays for us and really big catches. And that’s one thing we struggle with, just judging that fly ball and getting it back to the infield and he did it every time it came to him.”

In the fifth inning, with two outs and the Rockies’ Jacob Downing on second base, the Indians might have had the play of the game. Joshua Lindsey of the Rockies hit a bloop single into shallow right field with three Indians players converging on the ball trying to make the catch. Indians second baseman Bryndon Labhart got to the ball first and gunned home a strike to catcher Cade Cotton who applied the tag and kept the Indians’ shutout in tact.

The play prompted home plate umpire Mac McEndree to go over to the Indians dugout and compliment them on a “picture perfect tag,” and play.

Still clinging to their 2-0 lead in the sixth inning with the heat beginning to take its toll on players, Logan Mann still stood on the mound for the Indians.

With one out and Thompson on first and a full count, Dalton Cook hit a double just shy of the wall in left field that initially looked like a home run after leaving his bat.

That’s when Paul Mann made his visit to the mound where he said he was going to switch pitchers. But this time, the catcher-turned-pitcher, who normally pitches in relief situations, made the call. Logan responded with his fourth strikeout of the game, and then a fly ball to Kirkpatrick at centerfield.

Paul Mann said it was a complete game for the Indians who normally have a good game hitting the ball but bad game fielding it, or vice versa. Despite their struggles, Paul Mann said the Indians are looking to build off the win with the playoffs coming in a few weeks.

“If we can build some momentum right now and get some positive things happening I think that will help us as we approach the tournament and that’s what we’re really looking forward to at this point,” he said.

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