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With a penchant for drama, the Wilson City Little League All-Stars advanced to the championship game of the North Carolina Little League District 6 Ages 10-12 tournament with a pair of victories over the weekend at Southern Bank Stadium.
In slightly less dramatic fashion, the Wilson Ages 9-11 team claimed two victories at Gillette Baseball Complex to reach the district final as well.
The Ages 10-12 All-Stars, who won the District 6 Ages 9-11 crown last summer, got a grand slam to power each weekend win. Nathan Matthews drilled a pinch-hit slam to trigger Wilson, which had a first-round bye, to a 7-4 comeback victory over Bull City in the second round Saturday while Carter Adams’ slam in the top of the sixth inning was all the scoring in Wilson’s 4-0 win over South Durham on Sunday.
That sent Wilson straight to the championship game Wednesday at 6 p.m. Clayton and Bull City will play Monday evening at 6 in an elimination game with the winner getting South Durham in the losers bracket final Tuesday at 6 p.m. The winner would have to defeat Wilson twice to claim the district championship and a spot in the state tournament in Kernersville.
In its first game in the 9-11 tournament, Wilson had to twice rally from deficits before a five-run fifth inning at Southern Bank finally put it over the top in a 14-10 win against South Durham, which clipped rival league Bull City 7-6 in the play-in game Friday. In Sunday’s game on Field No. 2, Wilson scored three runs in the top of the first inning on its way to an 8-3 defeat of East Chatham in the semifinals of the four-team tourney. Wilson moves into the championship game Tuesday at 6 p.m. at Southern Bank Stadium against the winner of Monday’s losers bracket finale against East Chatham and Bull City. Should Wilson lose Tuesday, the “if necessary” game is set for Wednesday evening at 6 at Field No. 2. The District 6 winner moves into the state tournament in Greenville.
Wilson took a quick lead in the bottom of the first inning of Saturday’s Ages 10-12 game against Bull City on Seth Evan’s two-out solo home run. However, Bull City rallied for three runs in the top of the third. After Evans issued a leadoff walk to Cam Copley, four of the next five Bull City batters singled, followed by a Wilson error, to put Wilson in a 4-1 hole.
Adams took over on the mound for Evans in the top of the fourth and provided a jolt of energy by striking out the side. Evans kept it going in the bottom of the inning as the leadoff batter when he took a 2-0 offering from Copley and lined it over the center-field fence.
With one out, Adams ripped a single up the middle while Cole Davis smacked a drive to right field that fell in for a single, sending Adams to third base. Fireballer Nick Hicklen took over for Copley on the mound and promptly walked Wilson pinch hitter Shea Whitley on four pitches.
With the bases full, Matthews grabbed a bat to hit for right fielder Simon Quinn. After taking the first pitch for a ball and swinging through Hicklen’s second offering, the diminutive Matthews connected on the third pitch, sending the ball over the fence in right-center field.
Adams retired the side in order in the fifth and Joe Glover took over in the sixth to strike out the side and earn the save.
Adams got the start in Sunday’s game against South Durham and didn’t allow a base runner until South Durham’s Jack Brodeur led off the bottom of the second with a single. Adams gave up another single, the only hits he allowed in four innings, with two outs to put South Durham runners on first and third before striking out Peyton Jones for the final out.
Adams led off the top of the fifth inning with a triple against new South Durham pitcher Bryce Smith but was stranded when Smith fanned the next three Wilson hitters. Adams would have his big moment in the next inning.
With one out in the top of the sixth, Connor Radford singled. With two out, Evans reached on a single before an infield error by South Durham put Glover on first and loaded the bases for Adams. After fouling off the first pitch, Adams belted the second grand slam of the weekend for Wilson and Glover worked around a one-out South Durham single in the bottom of the inning to preserve the victory.
Wilson totaled 25 hits in its two victories in the Ages 9-11 tournament with Jake Harris and Will Doll collecting four each.
Harris’ leadoff single in the top of the fifth inning Saturday against South Durham triggered the five-run outburst that led to Wilson’s 14-10 victory after trailing 9-7 through four innings.
C.J. Summerlin collected the win on the mound with 1 2/3 innings of relief for Wilson. Harris went 3 for 5 while Doll and Maddox Deans each went 2 for 4. Deans drove in two runs as did Trevor Moore and Landon Cuddington.
Summerlin rapped a two-run single to key Wilson’s three-run first inning in Sunday’s 8-3 win over East Chatham. Doll drew a walk with two out and the bases empty to start the rally.
Summerlin also lined a two-out double in the fifth inning to score Doll and Luke Moran, giving him four RBIs on the day, before coming home on Seth Scott’s double to put Wilson ahead 6-3. Wilson added two more runs in the sixth, courtesy a passed ball and an error by East Chatham.