Smyrna-Clayton Seniors battled to the end

Smyrna-Clayton players celebrate their Senior League District I baseball championship. Submitted photo

WYOMING — All Smyrna-Clayton had to do was get two more outs before Camden-Wyoming scored three more runs.

But that’s not always as easy as it sounds.

An error followed by a walk loaded the bases for CW with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning of Wednesday night’s Senior League baseball District I championship game.

Finally, finally, pitcher Connor Bartlett got a strikeout to end the three-hour, 20-minute contest as Smyrna-Clayton’s players rushed together to celebrate.

“It all worked out for us in the end,” said Smyrna-Clayton manager Toby Davis. “It was tense.

“Our crowd was into it — I could hear them back there — and our kids were into it. It was a good way to finish there.”

For Smyrna-Clayton, the district title means more baseball and probably more tense moments for the Kent County squad.

On Monday, Smyrna-Clayton heads to Georgetown for the state tournament in Little League’s division for 15-16-year olds. After Little League got rid of Big League a couple years ago, Senior League now features the oldest players in the organization.

Smyrna-Clayton will face District II champion Naamans on Monday at 7 p.m. with District III champion Georgetown-Cape playing the winner on Tuesday evening in the three-team, double-elimination tourney.

Ultimately, the state champion earns a trip to the Eastern Regional in Bangor, Maine.

Many of Smyrna-Clayton’s players have been here before. The nucleus of the squad was part of the team that won the District I Junior League crown a year ago before falling in the state finals.

“This group of kids, they’ve played a lot of baseball with each other — Little League-wise and travel ball-wise,” said Davis, who also coached the Junior League squad. “They all know each other. It is a good group of guys. They all get along, they gel well.”

They also know what it’s like to compete against each other since some of the team members play for Polytech High with others playing for Smyrna.

Davis, though, really liked the way his players reacted when things went wrong on Wednesday. Smyrna-Clayton made a couple errors with some other mistakes in the title game.

But Davis said his players supported each other in those situations.

“Everybody was telling them, ‘Don’t worry about it,’” said Davis. “It was nice to see them not turn on each other.”

After going 4-0 in the District I tournament, Davis knows things won’t get any easier in states.

Georgetown-Cape won three games in a row to capture the District III title after losing its first game.

Davis knows all Smyrna-Clayton can do is try to worry about how it plays in the state tournament.

“If we just go out there and play our game, execute, get the outs we’re supposed to get, we’ll be fine,” he said. “I tell them, don’t put the third strike in the umpire’s hands, don’t worry about what the other team’s doing during their infield or outfield (drills). Ultimately, you’ve got to go out there and you’ve got to play them.”

Extra innings

District I’s Major League baseball tournament starts on Wednesday in Middletown. M.O.T. will be going after its eighth straight District I title in the age group. … Smyrna-Clayton is hosting the Junior League District I tourney beginning on Thursday evening.. … The Major League softball state tourney starts on Monday at Smyrna-Clayton with District III’s Laurel taking on New Castle County’s District III champion. District I champion Camden-Wyoming won’t play until Tuesday night.

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