Smyrna-Clayton wins District I Senior League title

DOVER — Those 12 runs for his offense looked good on the scoreboard, but Smyrna-Clayton manager Billy Graham liked the run total for the opposition even better.

Smyrna-Clayton shut out Felton-Harrington 12-0 Friday night in five innings at Dover Little League to clinch the Senior League baseball District I title. Smyrna-Clayton advanced to the state tournament, which begins at Newark National on Wednesday.

“It’s surreal,” Graham said. “A lot of these guys have been playing together since tee-ball.

“Everyone’s talking about our offensive threat but I’m more impressed with our defensive threat right now. Tonight our pitching was superb.”

Anthony Mannino and Dylan Leager combined for the shutout.

Mannino pitched the first two innings, stranding a runner at third in the first before Leager finished the game off with six strikeouts in the final three innings.

Smyrna-Clayton’s offense was bolstered by a seven-run top of the fourth when it sent 11 batters to the plate. It came back the next inning with four more runs.

“It’s just getting the timing of the pitcher down and getting the ball into the gaps,” said catcher Caden Naylor, who doubled twice in the fourth. “We fought hard in the game and never let up. We just kept putting runs on the board.”

“That’s about our trigger point,” Graham said. “Once the boys start getting on, they feed off each other.”

Naylor went 2-for-3 with a pair of RBI and a run scored to lead the Smyrna-Clayton offense, while Jordan Battee had a two-RBI triple where he also scored on an overthrow to third.
Andy Naylor drove in three runs and also doubled twice.

Leager gave Smyrna-Clayton all the runs it would need when he plated Aaron Souder with a single in the top of the second. Smyrna-Clayton threatened again by getting the first two men of the third on, but couldn’t score and had to wait until the fourth inning to pull away.

Caden Naylor got the first run of the inning when he stole home off a double steal and Andy Naylor soon followed with a double into the gap to score Souder and Leager. Mannino then got his first RBI of the night with a groundout to score Andy Naylor.

Billy Graham Jr. and Dylan Snow each singled and scored in the inning. Caden Naylor capped the scoring in the fourth when he knocked in Snow and Desmond Wilson with a double as the 10th batter in the inning.

“Everyone keeps each other up and gets everyone involved,” Graham said. “If they keep playing the way they’re playing, we’re going to have a nice journey.”

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