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