For K.J.

Brown homer hon­ors late brother, helps power South Caro­line’s open­ing-round win

Times-Record - - FRONT PAGE - By DAVID INSLEY dins­ley@stardem.com

Wayne Brown seems to float in mid-air as he trots home fol­low­ing his sec­ond-in­ning home run for South Caro­line’s 10-12-year-old Lit­tle League Baseball All-Stars on Sun­day, June 25. He ded­i­cated the hit to his younger brother, K.J., who passed away last year.

PRE­STON — South Caro­line left fielder Wayne Brown wasn’t just think­ing of baseball Sun­day night.

When he hit his firstever home run in the sec­ond in­ning of his team’s 10-12-year-old Dis­trict 6 Al­lS­tar baseball play­off opener, he was think­ing of some­one near and dear who couldn’t be there, but was watch­ing from above.

“I felt like I fi­nally did it for my lit­tle brother that’s up there in Heaven,” Brown said of his homer, which ac­counted for the fourth and fifth runs, es­sen­tially mak­ing it the game-win­ning hit in his team’s 10-4 win over Cam­bridge. “His name is K.J. He was one, when he died ... [last] year.”

South Caro­line (1-0), the two-time de­fend­ing dis­trict champs, gets a day off, and takes on Caro­line North at 5:30 p.m. Tues­day; the 1112 bracket is be­ing played on the fields be­hind Pre­ston Ele­men­tar y School.

Right-han­der Owen Nagel pitched a com­plete game, al­low­ing no earned runs in the win; he struck out seven hit­ters while al­low­ing three hits and one walk.

South Caro­line, the vis­it­ing team in the opener, opened with a three-spot in the first. Sin­gles by Austin Walls (3 for 4, three runs) and Josh Co­hee set the ta­ble; three-hole hit­ter Chandler Tin­dall then blasted a shot up the right-field line that he legged out for a tworun triple. Tin­dall scored a mo­ment later on a passed ball.

With one out in the top of the sec­ond, Ja­cob Co­hee, Josh’s brother, shrugged off the bee sting he got on his right hand just be­fore the game and slapped a base hit to left. Brown, hit­ting in the nine-spot, fol­lowed, clob­ber­ing the first fast­ball he saw, which landed 10 feet be­yond the cen­ter-field fence and made it 5-0, South Caro­line.

Tin­dall’s pop-up to the left side fell in for a lead­off sin­gle in the third; he even­tu­ally scored on a Crys­tian Brewer ground out to sec­ond, putting the tour­na­ment’s host team up 6-0.

As the game be­gan, South Caro­line man­ager Kevin Blades said, Nagel’s best re­source wasn’t as much his reper­toire of pitches as it was “his con­fi­dence.”

“Con­fi­dence, yep. It was def­i­nitely that,” Blades said. “He had a lot, es­pe­cially early . ... At one point, we talked about maybe tak­ing him out be­cause they thought maybe they had got­ten onto [him]. But he thought he could han­dle it. And he was right.”

“My two-seam fast­ball worked best,” said Nagel, who notched four of his seven Ks on the night with it. “It cut from the out­side to the in­side, and some of them re­ally couldn’t hit it.”

Pitch­ing with a lead, which Nagel did from start to fin­ish, “was easy,” he said. “Plus, the de­fense helped me. A lot.”

Cam­bridge, quiet at the plate ex­cept for a John Con­don walk in the first, and a Kyle Jack­son dou­ble in the third, got on the board in the bot­tom half of the fourth.

Daniel Hes­son’s chop­per to sec­ond was thrown wide and rolled out of play, giv­ing him an ex­tra base on the er­ror. Rolling into sec­ond on that in­field mis­cue, an­other put him at third, and a wild pitch by Nagel brought him in to make it 6-1.

South Caro­line got the run back in the top of the fifth. Lead­ing off, Walls sin­gled to left and moved to sec­ond when the ball got by the out­fielder. Josh Co­hee’s bloop dou­ble to cen­ter field scored him.

Cam­bridge put to­gether a big rally in the bot­tom of the fifth, though, as South Caro­line’s de­fense had a cou­ple lapses.

Back-to-back in­field er­rors put Brycen Cole­man and Hunter Rose on base with one out. Con­don’s sin­gle scored Cole­man, and a third er­ror, on a re­lay af­ter the sin­gle, moved Rose to third, while Con­don made sec­ond. Luke Gootee came up next and smacked a hit to right field, scor­ing both run­ners to cut the deficit in half, at 7-4. But Gootee was thrown out in a run­down on the play for the sec­ond out. Nagel got the next hit­ter to ground out, end­ing the rally. He yielded a lead­off sin­gle to Matt Wright in the sixth, but no more runs.

South Caro­line iced the game with three in the sixth. Nagel reached on an er­ror and scored on a Dal­ton Blades hit. Walls sin­gled shortly there­after; he and Blades scored on a Tin­dall base hit.

The win, Brown said, “feels great. It takes a lot of pres­sure off for the rest. It gives you a con­fi­dence booster for the other games.”

“I thought com­ing in, re­ally, that th­ese were the two best teams,” Cam­bridge man­ager Keith Gray said. “And I still do. We made some mis­takes, but we’ve still got tal­ented kids.

“There’s still a lot of baseball be­tween now and the cham­pi­onship (July 2),” Gray added. “I think we’re gonna meet them again. I re­ally do. But we’ve got to win to get there.”

John­son, who threw 50 pitches as Cam­bridge’s starter, along with Rose, who threw a score fewer, will both be avail­able for his team’s next game, an elim­i­na­tion bracket tilt Wed­nes­day, Gray said.

“We’ll have all our pitch­ing back,” Gray said. “We’ll need it. Five games in five days uses up pitch­ers pretty fast.”

Caro­line North 13 Den­ton 1

PRE­STON — Caro­line North opened big and cruised to a five-in­ning, open­ing-round win in the sec­ond open­inground 10-12-year-old All-Star con­test Sun­day.

Den­ton, now in the elim­i­na­tion bracket, takes on Cam­bridge at 5:30 p.m. Wed­nes­day.

8-10 Baseball Tri-City 23 S. Caro­line 0

CAM­BRIDGE — Tri-City (1-0) scored early and of­ten in its play­off opener, hang­ing six runs on South Caro­line (01) in the top of the first and rolling to a 23-0 vic­tory at Pli­escott Park.

Brock War­rell picked up the pitch­ing win and drove in two runs in the first with a base hit, even­tu­ally scor­ing him­self later in the in­ning.

Tri-City ad­vances in the win bracket and will play Home­run Baker at 5:30 p.m. Tues­day. The South Caro­line squad is now 0-1.

Home­run Baker 14 Den­ton 3

CAM­BRIDGE — Home­run Baker (1-0) pulled ahead 11-0 by the mid­dle of the fourth in­ning and was three outs from a rout-rule win when Den­ton’s bats came alive.

Den­ton scored three times in the bot­tom half of the fourth, buy­ing one more in­ning by keep­ing it within 10 runs. But Home­run Baker replied in kind in the top of the fifth, scor­ing three more.

Though Den­ton loaded the bases with two down in the bot­tom half of the fifth, the team could not close the gap again.

Co­hen Wil­son got the win on the hill for Home­run Baker (1-0). Den­ton, now 0-1, plays South Caro­line in an elim­i­na­tion game Wed­nes­day at 5:30 p.m. The win­ner stays alive, but must win five more games over the fol­low­ing five days to take the dis­trict crown.

PHOTO BY DAVID INSLEY

PHOTO BY DAVID INSLEY

Wayne Brown seems to float in mid-air as he trots home fol­low­ing his sec­ond-in­ning home run for South Caro­line’s 10-12-yearold Lit­tle League Baseball All-Stars on Sun­day night. He ded­i­cated the hit to his younger brother, K.J., who passed away last year.

PHO­TOS BY DAVID INSLEY

Nate Frac­caroli takes a swing dur­ing the first in­ning of Tri-City Lit­tle League’s 8-10-year-old baseball all-star game against South Caro­line on Sun­day in Cam­bridge.

Home­run Baker’s Do­minic Re­ma­niak takes a cut dur­ing the fifth in­ning of Sun­day af­ter­noon’s play­off in Cam­bridge.

Cam­bridge re­liever Brycen Cole­man de­liv­ers dur­ing the sixth in­ning of Sun­day’s game against South Caro­line.

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