Delaware District I: Big League World Series bound

DOVER — The District I all-stars got up bright and early Thursday morning, convinced this was going to be a better day.

It was.072116-3732

Twelve hours after being silenced by Pennsylvania’s pitching, the Kent County squad erupted for a 13-1 victory over Pa. to capture its second straight Big League baseball East title on Thursday morning at Dover Little League.

District I (4-1) scored five runs in the second inning before putting up seven in the seventh to finish off the win and punch its ticket to next week’s Big League World Series in Easley, S.C.

Pennsylvania (4-2) downed Kent County, 7-3, on Wednesday night to force a second game for the championship, with a 10 a.m. start time. District I manager L.B. Stubbs said the players were on the field by eight.

“They were ready to rock and roll,” said the Felton-Harrington manager. “You could feel a difference just in the way they were acting this morning. I think they were a little more nervous last night. They played a lot looser today. They got the job done.

“They played the game that we knew that they could play,” said Stubbs.

“We knew what we had to do,” said first baseman Tyler Collins, who had three hits. “We just had to hit the ball and we’d be fine. We had a game plan coming into today — hit the ball, throw strikes and make the plays — simple baseball.”

While District I was collecting 11 hits, pitcher Dillon Cole was limiting Pennsylvania to just four hits with only one walk and one hit batter. The righthander from Felton-Harrington needed just 79 pitches to finish the complete game.

Cole also got some help from his defense with Collins snaring a line drive and stepping on the bag at first base for a rally-killing double play in the sixth. District I also picked a runner off second base in the fifth.072116-3722

“Dillon asked me last night, he said he wanted the ball tomorrow,” said Stubbs. “He pitched a heck of a game. He threw strikes, he stayed out of trouble. That’s exactly what we needed him to do.”

“I knew if I just threw strikes, I’d be fine,” said Cole, who was also the winning pitcher in Kent County’s opener. “Last night we walked a lot of people and got behind in a lot of counts. They capitalized on it. … I like big pressure spots, that’s kind of my thing.”

If there was one play that put District I in control of the game, it was a wild one in the second inning.

With District I leading 1-0, Camden-Wyoming’s Quintin Ivy was walked with the bases loaded on a wild pitch that ended up at the backstop. While Eric Berardicelli scored on the walk, the runner behind him — Jordan Simpson — came racing home on the wild pitch.

Then, when the throw back to the plate got away, the next runner — Tommy Jordan — came in with the third run on the play.

Finally, Cole Garey singled home Ivy to give District I its 5-0 advantage. That was the only hit in the outburst as Kent County took advantage of four walks, two hit batters and the error in the inning.

“That was huge,” Cole said about getting the lead. “That was a lot of weight being lifted off my shoulders because we hadn’t been swinging the bats that great lately. I knew I could just go out there and challenge them every inning.”

“Good things happen to you when you put pressure on people,” said Collins. “That’s all we tried to do.

“That really put their heads down,” he added. “We knew we had momentum throughout the game then.”

District I made it 6-0 with a run in the fourth. Ivy singled, stole second and scored when Collins launched a triple into the rightfield corner.072116-4832

But Kent County left no doubt with its seven-run seventh. District I sent 11 batters to the plate and had five hits in the inning.

Garey got the whole thing started when, after a Collins’ leadoff single, he smacked a two-run homerun over the 375-foot sign in centerfield.

It was Garey’s eighth homer of the Big League season and gave Kent County a more-comfortable 8-1 cushion.

“We knew we needed to get a couple more runs for insurance,” said Garey. “I knew it was hit pretty well but I didn’t how well it was hit. It felt pretty good coming off the bat.

“Yesterday was kind of an eye-opener,” he said about Wednesday’s loss. “We really needed to get serious and we really needed to play as a team. Yesterday, we were just kind of doing our own thing.”

Dover’s Semaj Kelly capped off the big inning by lining a two-run single to right field.

Cole then blanked Pennsylvania one more time in the bottom of the seventh as District I’s players all happily piled on top of each other in the infield after the final out.

Getting the chance to go to a World Series, at any level, is every Little Leaguers’ dream.

“It’s something I’ve dreamed of since I was 12 years old,” said Cole. “I always wanted to be on that kind of stage.”

“I never thought I’d be doing this,” said Collins. “We’re just going to go down there and enjoy the experience and have fun.”

“I’m speechless,” said Stubbs. “It’s something that I never thought could be possible. I’m proud of these boys and excited. But the job’s not done yet. We’re going to try to win this World Series.”

Reach sports editor Andy Walter at walter@newszap.com

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