Despite suffering numerous injuries and enduring rain, the Warriors found a way to win their first 11U tournament. The team faced many different types of adversity and overcame each in securing the championship in the first tournament they've played in this age group.
Game 1: On Saturday, Nolan Alexander set the tone early on the mound for the Warriors. The right-hander did a tremendous job controlling the Leland Raiders on the bases as the team was able to get three outs early on pickoffs and a caught stealing. After putting a halt to the Raiders on the bases, Alexander pounded the strike zone, keeping his fielders in the game and involved. Dalton Stroud helped Alexander out with a couple of web gems at shortstop. After being down 1-0 heading into the bottom of the second, Campbell Smithwick was hit by a pitch to open the frame, stole second, and went to third on Benjamin Lewis's single. Both runs would eventually score on wild pitches. The team would tack on two more runs in the third when Owen Watts led off the inning with a walk. After Watts stole second, Watts came around to score on Daniel Stanley's single to left. Stanley later scored on Brandon Eldridge's double to centerfield. The team would put the game out of reach with five runs in the fifth. Watts again reached on a leadoff walk and later scored on a fielder's choice. Dillon Pruett reached on an error and came around to score on a double by Stanley. Stanley and Eldridge both scored on a triple off the bat of Caeden Graham. Graham would score on a perfectly executed safety squeeze by Smithwick. Stanley led the team offensively with two hits as Caeden Graham drove in two runs. Alexander picked up the win in the game. Eldridge came on in relief to record the final out and the save.
Game 2: The nightcap was a tight contest against the Myrtle Beach Pelicans. The two teams traded blows back-and-forth, as the Warriors eventually won in walk-off fashion as Blake Wall's groundball with the bases loaded couldn't be handled. The Pelicans got on the board first in the top of the first inning, and added three more in the third. Down 4-0, the Warriors stormed back the three runs of their own in the bottom of the third. Landen Doyle reached on an error to open the frame and stole second and third. Owen Watts was hit by a pitch and advanced to second on a bunt single from Pruett, loading the bases for the top of the order. Doyle eventually scored on a fielding error by the Pelican's shortstop. Watts came in on another Pelican error and Stanley came in on a fielder's choice. The two teams traded runs in the fourth, with the Warrior's run coming on an Alexander sacrifice fly scoring Caeden Graham, who was a courtesy runner for Wall who had reached on a fielder's choice. Brandon Eldridge started the game and went four solid innings scattering seven hits, surrendered four earned runs, and struck out five. Pruett came in the game in the fifth, only surrendering a walk and picking up the win in relief. The offensive was again led by Daniel Stanley who again picked up two hits and drove in two runs.
Game 3: As the number one seed on Sunday, the Warriors came out and handled their business early with an 11-2 victory in the semifinal game against the Carolina Thunder. After giving up a run in the top of the first, the Warriors came out swinging and scored four runs in their half. Dalton Stroud was hit by a pitch to open the frame, stole second and advanced on Stanley's fifth hit of the weekend. Both would later score on separate wild pitches. Eldridge then walked and came around on a double off the bat of Graham. Graham would later score on an RBI single from Wall. The team surrendered a single run in the top of the second and roared back with seven more of their own in the bottom of the third. The highlights of the inning included RBI doubles from Eldridge and Lewis; RBI-singles from Alexander, Watts, and Bryce Graham; and a perfect situational-hitting RBI from Landen Doyle. Dalton Stroud picked up the win on the mound for the Warriors scattering five hits, surrendering two earned, walking one and striking out two. Stroud was forced from the mound after being hit on the pitching hand with a line drive. Lewis then took the ball and promptly pitched a perfect fourth inning.
Game 4: In the Championship game, Lewis kept things rolling on the mound against the Raiders. Lewis got the start and pitched into the third before handing the ball off after taking a line drive off the hand. The Warriors were able to stake Lewis to a three runs lead with two outs in the first. Caeden Graham and Lewis singled and both came in on Wall's single to left. Wall's run would later score on a Raider error. After giving up a run in the top of the second, the Warriors picked up two more in their half. Leland sscored two more in the top of the third. And again the Warriors answered with two more of their own highlighed by Doyle's RBI-triple to right-center. The Warriors pushed their lead to 10-3 with two in the fourth and another single run in the fifth. The Raiders mustered a run in the sixth, but Caeden Graham held them off with three outs around two hits on eight pitches to secure a win and the weekend title.
Warrior Notes: The team's championship was well-earned, but came at a steep cost. Campbell Smithwick was lost for the next six weeks to a fractured forearm...Dalton Stroud is out for an undetermined amount of time with a fracture to his right hand...Catcher Blake Wall along with Benjamin Lewis are also having to receive treatment for multiple injuries suffered in the two days....The team will enjoy the Labor Day weekend off before getting back into action the second weekend of September.