Washington 9U All-Stars win Babe Ruth Area 3 Championship

Published 1:10 pm Wednesday, July 2, 2014



AYDEN — Less than two weeks ago, the Washington 9U All-Stars took the field for the first time in the Belhaven tournament against the area’s top 10U competition. Through timely hitting, sustainable pitching and consistent defense, head coach Chip Edwards’ team pulled off an unlikely victory in the first game against Pocosin.

Relying on that same philosophy, Washington’s scrappy bunch fought its way through the Babe Ruth Area 3 Tournament this weekend. In Tuesday’s championship game, the team’s hard work and defensive consistency finally paid off, as Washington took the Area 3 title over the Southern Pitt 9U All-Stars, 7-4.

With an invitation to compete in the Cal Ripken State Tournament on the line, Edwards sent starter Eli Huynh to the mound in hopes of containing the Southern Pitt bats early. For head coach Troy Peele, Daylin Brown’s plus fastball gave his team the best chance at taking home the championship trophy.SPORTS_Fundamentally sound2 copy

Despite an error at shortstop, Brown escaped the first unscathed, finishing the inning off with a strikeout. Huynh matched his counterpart by coercing a groundout with two runners in scoring position to escape a first-inning jam.

Sound defense would eventually separate these two evenly matched lineups, as Brown pitched well, but got little help from his infield.

In the second, Huynh reached on an error and Austin Cherry followed with an infield single. A walk to Dawson Mitchell loaded the bases, allowing Huynh to plate the first run of the game on a passed ball. Again, Brown prevented further damage with three strikeouts.

Over the next two innings, the Washington defense backed their starter, as Connor Edwards and Keifer Boyd patrolled the middle infield thoroughly. On offense, a leadoff single by Boyd resulted in another quick run after Edwards reached on a costly error at second base. Evan Waters followed with a single and Connor Edwards came around to score on an error at third base.

Due to the innings limit, coach Edwards replaced Huynh with Boyd in the fourth, while the offense tacked on another two runs of support with hits by Hayden Moore, Boyd and Connor Edwards.

And the Washington bats stayed hot in the fifth inning as well, as Reid Apple followed a walk and Mitchell single with a booming RBI double down the left field line, plating another two runs.

It was up to Boyd to finish off Southern Pitt in the six. After a well timed backhanded pick by Huynh at shortstop, Boyd walked Johnny Farmer and Ronnie Nicholson followed with an infield single. Boyd then struck out Ja’reon Howard, but would drill Braxton White in the helmet to load the bases.

White was fine and, apparently, so was his team. Brown and Matt Jones both walked, forcing in a run each, narrowing the lead to four runs.

“We had been dominating defensively the whole game, we hit the ball timely, we did a fantastic job pitching,” coach Edwards said. “Keefer pitched the best game he’s pitched for us. He struggled a bit there at the end, hitting a guy in the helmet, which was a funny but nerve racking.”

After a few words of encouragement, Edward decided to give his reliever for one more batter, the three hitter Jayden Grimes.

On a 1-1 count, Grimes smashed a single past the shortstop, scoring White. Brown rounded third and tried to score, but a perfect throw from centerfield and a skillful tag by the catcher Cherry resulted in a demonstrative final out.

SPORTS_Fundamentally sound3 copyWashington rushed their catcher and celebrated, hoisting the Area 3 championship trophy.

“Right there down to that last play, it’s the boys fundamentally playing the game that they should play,” coach Edwards said. “They know how to do it and it’s become second nature to them. That’s what wins ballgames, limiting mistakes and focusing on the moment. That’s why they’re champions.”

Huynh picked up the win, allowing just two hits and striking out one, while Boyd finished the day 2-for-3 with an RBI.

Alongside other area All-Star teams, Washington will compete in the Cal Ripken District Tournament set to kick off Sunday at the Susiegray McConnell Sports Complex. The tournament will feature a total of 44 teams and include four Washington squads and teams from Bath, Chocowinity, Belhaven and the Pinetown area.