Dover Senior League District I champions eye state tournament

DOVER — Two years ago, Daevon Stratton got to play in an Eastern Regional with Dover’s Junior League baseball all-stars.

He remembers it being a pretty neat experience.

“It was just cool meeting new teams from different states,” said Stratton. “Like we played Rhode Island the first game. I’d love to do that (again). It was a great experience.”

Right now, Stratton and his Dover Senior League all-star teammates are halfway to getting the chance to play in another regional.

Dover captured the District I title on Sunday after going 3-0 in the tournament.

Dover’s Senior League all-star baseball team went 3-0 to capture the District I title last week. (Submitted photo)

On Saturday, the three-team state tournament gets started at M.O.T.’s complex in Middletown. District III champion Lower Sussex faces District II winner Naamans on Saturday at 7 p.m.

Dover then faces the winner on Sunday at 7 p.m. The double-elimination tourney is slated to continue through at least Tuesday.

The state champion in Little League’s division for 15-16 year olds advances to the Eastern Regional, which begins on July 20 in Thorofare, N.J. With the elimination of Big League after last summer, Senior League is now Little League’s oldest age division.

Dover poses with its District I championship banner after winning the title on Sunday. (Submitted photo)

Manager Jay Brummell said he thought this team had a chance to earn the District I title even before the tourney started.

“A lot of these guys bought into what I was saying,” he said. “Even before we had our first practice, I told them, not only are we going to a championship but we’re going to win a championship. I said I believe we can make it happen.”

Not that winning the district banner was easy.

In the opener, Smyrna-Clayton rallied from a 5-1 deficit to tie Dover at 5-5. But Stratton delivered a two-run single in the seventh to give Dover a 7-5 win.

Manager Jay Brummell (01), who is assisted by his brother, Deandre Snipes (02), coached Dover’s Junior League all-stars last summer. (Submitted photo)

In its second game, Dover trailed Camden-Wyoming by a run before rallying in the bottom of the seventh for a 3-2 win.

Finally, in the title game, Smyrna-Clayton held a five-run lead in the first inning before Dover came back to claim an 18-8 win.

“We just say saying, ‘Keep your head up, keep on fighting,’ ” said player Avery Dabney. “I knew we were going to come back (in the district finals). We just do that.”

“They don’t give up,” said Brummell.

Brummell is a Sussex Tech High grad who works as a disciplinarian at Kent County’s Parkway Central alternative school.

A year ago, he coached Dover’s Junior League all-stars to a 1-2 record in the District I tournament. He wanted to get a second chance with the Senior Leaguers this summer.

“I knew the guys from last year,” said Brummell. “There was definitely room to grow. I love working with kids. I deal with teenagers all day, every day.
“I’m hard on these boys when it comes time to practice. They know that. I definitely expect perfection.”

Predicting how teams from different districts will match up in the state tournament is never easy.

But Dover’s players know they’ll have to play good baseball if they want the chance to reach the Eastern Regional.

“We definitely have to cut down on our errors in the field,” said Stratton, an outfielder. “They won their districts, we won our district so we know we’re going against a good team. You’ve definitely got to respect them.”

“I’m going to let them know that, how they played in the district is not acceptable in the states,” said Brummell. “They made a lot of mental errors that could have cost us games.

“I look at one game a time, one practice at a time and I deal with one player at a time. They’re kids and I was a kid once. I’m trying to tell them what I would have wanted someone to tell me when I was that age.”

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