Valley Sports Report
ATHENS — District 12 champ Keystone took the lead early, and blew the game wide-open late here Friday night in a 21-2 win over District 15 champ Athens in the opening round of the Section III Little League 11U baseball playoffs.
Keystone’s Cole Cooper led off the game with a single to right field, but Athens starter Matthias Welles fanned the next two batters. Blake Walker then ripped a hard ground-ball RBI double that hopped over the third-base bag and rolled all the way to the wall to score Cooper.
Walker scored moments later on a dropped infield pop up off the bat of Darius Shade, who ended up on second base. After Shade stole third base, Nolan Cross walked, and the duo pulled off a double steal with Shade scoring to make it 3-0.
Cooper Robinson led off home half of the first inning with a triple to left-centerfield, and scored on a one-out single by Welles to trim the deficit to 3-1.
Charan Venkataswamy singled with two outs, but Keystone starter Austin Andrus retired the next batter to end the inning.
Keystone added two runs in the second inning, and four more in the top of the third to take a commanding 9-1 advantage.
In the home half of the third, Robinson led off with a line-drive single, stole second, and scored on a groundball single up the middle by Welles to make it 9-2.
James Friend then followed with a double to right field to make it 9-2. With runners on second and third and one out, Athens appeared poised to get back into the game, but Keystone reliever Nolan Cross struck out the next two batters to avoid further damage.
Keystone sent 16 batters to the plate in the fourth inning, and collected 10 hits, including two doubles and two triples. Keystone also scored six runs with two outs in the fourth inning, and scored 12 of its 21 runs in the game with two outs.
Robinson tripled and singled, stole two bases, and scored two runs, and Welles singled twice and drove in two runs to pace Athens’ six-hit attack, while Friend doubled and Venkataswamy added a single.
Cooper tripled, doubled, and singled, scored our runs, and drove in four runs, and Hayes Miller was 3-for-3 with three runs scored and three RBI to pace Keystone’s 14-hit attack, while Watt Probst doubled and singled, scored once, and had four RBI, and Walker doubled and singled, scored two runs, and drove in three runs.
Andrew earned the win for Keystone, allowing two runs on four hits, while striking out five and walking none in 2 1/3 innings. Cross allowed two hits and struck out five in 1 2/3 innings of scoreless relief.
Athens will face District 24 champ Millersburg, which lost 13-3 to Juniata, Saturday at 4 p.m. in the opening game of the consolation bracket in the double-elimination tournament.
IN PHOTO 1: Athens’ Cooper Robinson. … PHOTOS BY TIM BIRNEY.
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