Title game needs OT

Published 10:15 pm Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Undefeated: Bridgewater players and coaches celebrate the final out of their 5-3 win for the state championship at Bennett’s Creek Little League Wednesday morning. Bridgewater beat West Springfield in the final of the Virginia Minor League (age 9-10) State Tournament. Both teams were undefeated for the week going into the final.

Bridgewater edges West Springfield in finale at Bennett’s Creek

Six days of baseball and six games each for Bridgewater and West Springfield weren’t enough to decide the state championship. There had to be one more inning.

With Waring Garber and Zach Hendrick driving in the go-ahead runs on sacrifice flies and one more scoreless inning fired by reliever Addison Griffin, Bridgewater edged West Springfield 5-3 in seven innings to win the Minor League (ages 9-10) state title at Bennett’s Creek Little League.

Both sides came into Wednesday morning’s final undefeated. In the 10 wins combined, Bridgewater and West Springfield tallied double digit run totals nine times.


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So the final came down to a tight game of pitching and defense.

“It was great defense,” said Bridgewater manager Bob Crouch. “The kids really gelled. This was only the second time they’ve been down this year, usually we’re up, but the kids really pulled it out.”

Two fireballers started on the mound, Jack Cone for West Springfield and Garber for Bridgewater.

Bridgewater took a 1-0 lead against Cone in the top of the first before West Springfield rallied for three runs in the home half of the frame.

West Springfield didn’t have much going with a runner on first and two down. Garber hit clean-up batter Calvin Pastel with a pitch and Connor Copeland kept the line moving with a walk, loading the bases.

Tyler Matheny laced a single into leftfield and Bobby Leitzel and Pastel scored. Brian Bachman singled with a swinging bunt. Copeland came down the line, beating a toss to the plate.

Bridgewater manufactured a run in the top of the second, scoring a run on a double steal with Trey Hoover sprinting home as Mason Kimbrough went into second.

Little League’s 75-pitch limit meant Garber was done after three innings, bringing Addison Griffin from shortstop to the mound.

Griffin proceeded to blank West Springfield the rest of the way, doing so while allowing no walks, along with no wild pitches, passed balls or any free bases as his defense played errorless behind him.

Bridgewater still had ground to make up versus Cone, who retired nine of 10 hitters in a stretch from the second inning until one out in the fifth inning.

Griffin, Bridgewater’s leadoff batter, doubled, shooting a liner into center that short-hopped by the outfielder to the fence. Griffin stole third but Cone fired a strikeout for the second out.

Tanner Moyers drove a base hit back up the middle for the tying RBI with four outs to spare.

Garber, in the clean-up spot, followed with a double into left, actually banging off the leftfield fence on the fly.

Leitzel came on in relief for Cone and ended the threat, keeping a 3-3 score, with a strikeout to the first batter he faced.

After keeping the game alive, Bridgewater got the go-ahead runs in the first extra frame.

Stuart Brunk reached first on an error to start the seventh and raced around to third when Moyers singled into centerfield. Moyers moved to second as West Springfield tried getting Brunk going to third.

Garber and Hendrick followed with flies to deep left, each of which was plenty to bring a runner in.

West Springfield made the last three outs tough on Bridgewater. With one out, Sam Freeborne and Cone singled.

Pastel and Copeland, West Springfield’s fourth- and fifth-place hitters proved more than capable of homers at any time during the week, so saying the winning run at the plate was quite true.

Bridgewater got the second out, with third baseman Koice Quintanilla grabbing a grounder and tagging his bag, then Griffin scooped a chopper near the mound and tossed to first for the final out.

Moyers was on Bridgewater’s team that reached the state tournament, but not that close to the championship, last summer.

“Last year we were nervous and new to this,” Moyers said.

“I can’t find the right words. It’s like madness really,” he said.

“It’s great because of how the kids worked their tails off for the last two months,” Crouch said.

Bridgewater will have to keep working now since the team’s summer continues, moving on to a tournament in Huntington, W.V. for state champions from the southeast.