Collins, Barkley combine to 1-hit Conn., District I goes 2-0 in regional

Special to the Delaware State News/Doug Curran

DOVER — Tyler Collins didn’t even realize he had a no-hitter going when he was taken out.

Not that it would have mattered any way to the District I pitcher.

“It was all about the pitch count,” said Collins. “I knew it would benefit the team if I came out and pitched later on in the tournament.”

Besides, reliever John Barkley finished what Collins started, silencing Connecticut for the most part as Kent County’s District I all-stars registered a 7-1 victory on the second day of the Big League baseball Eastern Regional on Sunday night.

The victory sends District I (2-0) to an 8 p.m. showdown with Pennsylvania (2-0) today in the winners’ bracket finals. The contest will be the last of three games slated for today at Dover Little League in the double-elimination tourney.

Collins and Barkley combined to pitch a one-hitter. Connecticut’s lone hit actually came from its last batter, Ben Gaedeke, who lined a ball to right center with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning.

But Gaedeke was thrown out when he tried to stretch the hit into a double to end the game anyway.

District I manager L.B. Stubbs took out Collins after the lefthander’s pitch count reached 60. That allows him to pitch again with only one day’s rest.

Collins struck out six and walked two in his 5 1/3 no-hit innings.

“You’re always thinking ahead,” said Stubbs, from Felton-Harrington. “We’re here ultimately to win the game. And it’s all about working your pitchers to make sure you have enough pitchers at the end.

“We’re in a good spot. Hopefully we can continue this momentum.”

Collins started the game by striking out the side in the bottom of the first.

“I felt good,” said the Lake Forest High grad. “I struggled to find the strike zone at first. But once I found that arm slot, I was good from there.”

Against a Connecticut squad (1-1) that opened the tournament with an 11-1 win over Delaware’s Cape Henlopen on Saturday, District I was able to manufacture enough runs to gradually take control.

Milford High grad Tommy Jordan scored Kent County’s first two runs after walking and stealing second both times. He scored the first run on a groundout by Camden-Wyoming’s Quinton Ivy and the second on an infield single by Ivy.

Ivy then scored on a Connecticut throwing error as he was stealing third to give District I a 3-0 lead in the fifth. Connecticut committed five errors on the night.

Kent County finally broke the game open with a three-run sixth. Barkley had an RBI double on a long fly ball that looked like it might have been lost in the lights before Smyrna-Clayton teammate Brendon Davis followed with a two-run single.

Barkley was also on last year’s District I squad that started 2-0 but then had to battle out of the losers’ bracket to win the East title.

“Some people think they’ve got it made but you’ve still got to earn it,” said the Smyrna High grad. “It’s still going to be tough. We’ve just got to work our way through it.”

Having an experienced pitcher like Barkley comes in handy when District I could bring in the righthander with a 3-0 lead on Sunday.

Connecticut scored its only run in the sixth when District I committed back-to-back errors.

“Last year I had butterflies, my first year being on the team,” said Barkley. “This year it’s like second nature. It was just going out there playing a normal ballgame.”

“We’re pitching well,” said Stubbs. “I’d like to see our bats come around a little bit better.

“We’ve got a tough game tomorrow night against Pennsylvania but we’ve got a good bunch of young men.”

Cape Henlopen 7, Rhode Island 0: Cape also got a one-hitter in its win on Sunday.

Ben Lewis allowed only a one-out single in the seventh while striking out six as Cape (1-1) stayed alive in the tournament.

The Sussex County squad faces another elimination game, today at 3 p.m., against New York.

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