Smyrna-Clayton earns Junior League baseball crown

The Smyrna-Clayton Junior League all-star team stands with their championship banner. (Delaware State News/Tim Mastro)

MIDDLETOWN — The Smyrna-Clayton Junior League all-stars didn’t hang their heads a few days ago after an early tournament loss.

On Tuesday, they were hoisting a banner.

Smyrna-Clayton defeated Camden-Wyoming 13-7 on Tuesday night to capture the District I Junior League baseball championship. It had to win three elimination games in a row after falling to this same Camden-Wyoming team on Saturday.

Smyrna-Clayton advanced to the state tournament which starts on Tuesday, July 24, hosted by Millsboro Little League. Smyrna-Clayton will open the tournament against the District II representative on Tuesday at 7 p.m.

Smyrna-Clayton led wire-to-wire after a five-run first inning.

It scored the first two runs on errors and loaded the bases. Joe Street then cleared them with a three-RBI triple.

“I just wanted to bring them in,” Street said. “There is pressure but you got to act like there’s no pressure and just hit a line drive to the outfield.”

Holden Connell started for Smyrna-Clayton and pitched four and a third innings to record the win.

Smyrna-Clayton’s Shawn Mannering watches his fly ball against Camden-Wyoming in the first inning during Junior District 1 match up in Middletown. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

Connell gave way to reliever Nolan Fretz in the fifth inning with Smyrna-Clayton up 9-5 but the bases loaded with one out. Fretz rolled a 6-4-3 inning-ending double play.

“I came in the same situation before so I knew I’ve done it before,” Fretz said.

Smyrna-Clayton extended the lead with four runs in the top of the seventh.

Shawn Mannering finished with three runs scored and two RBI. Derek Davis scored twice and had a pair of hits while Caden Daniels doubled and drove in a run. Jake Macey also had two RBI and Conner Bartlett tripled

“Honestly when we picked this team this year I had no doubt in my mind that they were capable of what we pulled off here,” said Smyrna-Clayton manager Toby Davis. “I’m just so proud of the coaches, the community and the boys. They stepped up and it’s on to states.”

It was the second day in a row Smyrna-Clayton rode a big first inning to a victory.

Smyrna-Clayton used a three-run first on Monday to earn a 14-1 win over Camden-Wyoming to set up Tuesday’s winner-take-all matchup.

“It’s real important to get the bats rolling,” Fretz said. “If you do that and go out with the same energy, it keeps on rolling throughout the game.”

“We gel together,” Street said. “We’re in the dugout making noise, cheering each other on. We’re all friends. It feels good to go to states as a team.”

myrna-Clayton’s Nolan Fretz backs up a high throw as Camden-Wyoming’s Brock Conner slides safe into second on a steal in the first inning during Junior District 1 match up in Middletown. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

Dawson Mitchell led Camden-Wyoming with a two-RBI double. Braydon Moran also drove in two runs for Camden-Wyoming.

Camden-Wyoming defeated Smyrna-Clayton 12-2 on Saturday in the winner’s bracket final. But Smyrna-Clayton reeled off three-straight victories to earn the District I banner.

“There’s no quit in these kids,” Davis said. “The Saturday night game could’ve been a backbreaker. We kind of laid an egg for a lack of a better term and got smoked. But they responded and were outstanding. Every kid on the roster from top to bottom has contributed.”

Reach staff writer Tim Mastro at tmastro@newszap.com

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