Little League is a great opportunity for kids of all ages to learn and enjoy the game they love to play. And at the Pat Knight Invitational All-Star tournament, that’s precisely the environment that they experience.
Lower Sussex’s 11- and 12-year-olds team is currently marching their way toward a tournament championship, after scoring 10 runs in the last two innings on July 10 to defeat Lewes 19-18.
They won the game in dramatic fashion, and the best part is that everyone had a chance to play and contribute.
“This is the way Little League is supposed to be,” said Head Coach Steve Vickers. “The parents were well-behaved, and everyone had a chance to play and have a good time.”
Lower Sussex’s starting pitcher, Brad Collins, only pitched one inning, in which he gave up seven runs, putting them well behind Lewes.
Collins might not have had the kind of day he’d like to have on the mound but he sure made up for it at the plate. He hung tough to safely hit 3-5 and was an integral component in their come-from-behind victory over Lewes.
“Brad really had a bad break against Lewes. He’s our best pitcher but he just didn’t have his stuff that game. But he battled back and was able to hit the ball,” said Vickers.
From there, Fabian McCray and Tyler Dean worked the remaining six innings against Lewes and would overcome a nine-run deficit in the final two innings to win the game.
In the bottom of the fifth inning, Max Vickers delivered on an inside-the-park homerun that would cut the Lewes lead to 18-17.
The bottom of the sixth inning marked Lower Sussex’s last opportunity to score and last chance to win. Dean doubled to score Vickers and tie the game at 18 apiece. Dean batted 3-5 and Vickers hit 4-5, with a team-high six RBI’s.
Lower Sussex then had Dean on base and two outs on the scoreboard. But he didn’t have to wait long to come home, because Marquel Knight drove home the game-winning run, which is a feat that’s right up his alley.
“Marquel is a great kid. He tries to hit homeruns on every swing, and his swing won it for us,” said Vickers.
Jordan Rodgers also chipped in, scoring three Lower Sussex runs in the effort.
Lower Sussex trounced Rehoboth Beach 15-4 but lost to Millsboro 6-7 in a heartbreaker, giving the team a 2-1 record heading into the final two games leading up to the championship.
In those games, Lower Sussex will play Seaford on July 13 at Millsboro Little League Park at 6 p.m. and travel to Woodbridge on July 14 for another 6 p.m. start.
“If we win at least one of two, we have a chance for the championship,” explained Vickers. “The best two records determine who will play for the championship. But if there is a tie, then it will come down to runs allowed versus runs scored and we’ve scored a lot of runs — so it’s possible.”