Kent District I tops Conn. 9-4 in Big League Eastern Regional

DOVER — They know better than to think a couple victories adds up to a ticket to the World Series.

Still, the Kent County’s District I all-stars are sitting in a pretty good position right now.

District I rolled to a 9-4 victory over Connecticut on a hot Monday afternoon to improve to 2-0 in the Big League baseball Eastern Regional at Dover Little League.

That puts Kent County in today’s winners’ bracket finals where it will play the other Delaware squad in the nine-team field, Sussex County’s District III, at 3 p.m.

Sussex County (2-0) was also impressive in erupting for seven runs in the first inning before posting a 12-2, five-inning win over New York in its game on Monday.

Both teams still need at least two more wins to reach the Big League World Series in Easley, S.C. A Delaware squad hasn’t made it to the Series since 2006.

“Overconfidence is a big killer in these tournaments,” said District I first baseman Travis Dill of Camden-Wyoming. “You come in and you’re blowing through everybody, then there’s that one team. … you’re tired and they beat you.”

“It only gets tougher,” said manager Kevin Turner from Dover. “The winners’ bracket finals are going to be a tough matchup. It’ll be a dogfight.”

Already leading 2-0, District I broke Monday’s game open with five runs in the second inning. Kent County sent 10 batters to the plate, finishing with five hits in the inning.
Dill ground a two-run single through the infield while Dover’s Tevin Thomas and Dakota Graham both added RBI singles in the outburst.

Being up 7-0 was a nice change for District I, which had to hold on for a 3-2 win over Maryland in its opener on Saturday night.

“I thought we were a little sluggish before the game,” said Turner. “We talked about that. Game time came and we were able to put the barrel on the ball a little bit, get some runners in motion and get into an offensive rhythm.”

“We have a strong pitching staff right now,” said Dill. “Hitting is what we need. We can hold a team down but you can’t win if you don’t score.”

Starting pitcher John Barkley of Smyrna-Clayton gave District I a strong three innings. The righthander allowed just a single while facing only 10 batters.

The big lead allowed District I to use four pitchers without running up anyone’s pitch count.

“When we get ahead like that, there’s no reason to waste an arm,” said Barkley. “We kept our arms fresh for the rest of the games. You get tired real quick in this heat so I was pretty happy we jumped on them in the first two innings.”

“John went out there and pitched brilliantly,” said Turner. “As far as keeping the arms fresh, we have every arm we started with ready to go. Good pitching always beats good hitting in my mind — being an old pitcher.

“I feel if we can get four or five runs on the board, we can be in pretty good shape.”

Dover’s Sean Hanhauser, Smyrna-Clayton’s Cory Everage and Dallas Willey also pitched for District I.

District I added a run in the third when Dover’s Adrian Hill doubled and scored on Everage’s sacrifice fly. Kent County added an insurance run in the seventh after a double by Dover’s Andrew Mace.

District-III 12, New York 2: Sussex County also left little doubt on Monday after its seven run first inning.

Austin Littleton, who started Sunday’s game a homerun, led off the bottom of the first with a triple on Monday. Jacob Swift also had a two-run single in the inning.

District III finished with 14 hits, including three each from Littleton and Robbie Marcelle. Brian Carroll, who had a pair of doubles, Swift and Eddie Hogan all added two hits.

Tony Susi, one of three Sussex coaches, said his players came into the tourney wanting to prove something. He thinks the last time a team from the Millsboro-Georgetown area went far in the tournament was in 1991 or ‘92.

Noting that Kent County last went to the Big League World Series in 2006, Susi said, “They’re hungry but we’re starving.”

“They’ve just gelled incredibly,” he said. “You can’t take boys from different areas, put them together and have them sync like this. This is just incredible the way they play ball together.”

Whichever Delaware team loses today will have to come back a few hours later and play an elimination game at 8 p.m. The finals are slated for Wednesday at 5:30 p.m.
Tim Reynolds and Tim Carroll are District III’s other coaches.

“A lot of these boys played school ball and they had a bad taste in their mouths,” said Reynolds. “They’re like, ‘We want to do something here.’ When they won the states they’re like, ‘We’re not done.’’

Reach sports editor Andy Walter at walter@newszap.com

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