Sixteen runs early keep District 2 champs unbeaten
By ryan buck
Several Canfield 10-11 year-old Little Leaguers posed a very important question to each other after Friday’s state tournament game victory: “Where are we going to eat?”
Much nourishment was needed after the work done at the plate for the undefeated baseball players from Canfield.
They pounded out 11 hits, two coming from home runs by Braydon Beck, as they advanced to the winners’ bracket of the state tournament with a convincing 18-2 victory over New Albany.
Canfield’s batters, taking their swings first as the visiting team, were relentless early, scoring 16 runs in their first two at-bats.
With one out in the top of the first inning, Beck took a fastball down the heart of the plate 30 feet over the left-center field fence, scoring Seth Velker and Ethan Fletcher to give Canfield a 3-0 lead.
“That’s where I like ‘em,” Beck said. “So I swung at it ... three-run home run.”
McCoy Watkins followed Beck with a single. Two passed balls later, Watkins and Jake Kowal crossed the plate for a 5-0 lead after one inning.
Confidence filled the Canfield dugout for the rest of the evening. The close-knit group has seen the best competition Ohio has to offer.
“These guys play pretty loose to begin with,” manager George Beck said. “They’ve had each other’s company for the last three years so they’re very comfortable.”
The bright lights and big stakes are nothing new.
“We were on this stage last year which was a good experience for us,” Beck said. “They came ready to play today.”
Velker took the mound and set New Albany down in order. The onslaught then continued at the plate.
The first 10 Canfield hitters reached base in the second frame.
Dominic Pilolli, Velker and Fletcher came around to score in order on wild pitches. Walt Sweeney’s double with one out scored Watkins and Kowal for an 11-0 lead.
They batted around the order to set the stage for the top of their order again.
With two outs, Fletcher tripled to the right-center field wall and cleared the bases.
Beck then saw another ill-timed fastball down the heart of the plate and ripped his second home run, this one to right-center field, bringing home Fletcher.
“We just wanted to keep piling it on,” Braydon Beck said. “Don’t let up.”
New Albany came back with two runs in the bottom half of the inning, but the damage was aready done.
Sweeney and Cole Rothbauer scored runs in the third to finish the scoring and Richie Hofus came on in relief to close the game in the final innings.
The Canfield defense didn’t commit an error.
The intensity of the early innings turned to joy and laughter in the later innings as the 10-run mercy rule had a well-deserved meal in their sights.
George Beck lauded his team’s performance, but had to find a way to challenge his dugout.
“One of the things we had talked about after the game was to continue to focus no matter what the score is,” Beck said. “If I wanted to get picky on something we need to get better at, it’s that.”
State power Westside Hamilton awaits them in the winner’s bracket game today at 6 p.m.