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Rockford 11U All-Stars Topple Western

By Jeannie Gregory, 07/20/18, 3:45PM EDT

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Rockford players celebrate their victory over Western

Sometimes games test who you truly are as a team. Rockford’s 11U Little League All-Star team definitely experienced a gut-checker Thursday night, but proved they’re a team that doesn’t quit. It wasn’t easy, and it wasn’t pretty at times, but the 14-13 victory over Western showed that the

Rockford players and coaches had plenty of character and drive.

Rockford looked like they had the District 9 game in the bag, amassing 10 runs in three innings, while suffocating the Western bats to the tune of zero runs. Rockford even executed a beautiful double play to close an inning. But, something happened in the top of the fourth, and Rockford suffered plenty of miscues. Western was able to plate seven runs to narrow the Rockford lead to just three runs, with a score of 10-7. Rockford was quieted at the plate in the bottom of the fourth and Western blasted more runs in the top of the fifth to claim a 13-10 lead.

In the bottom of the fifth, Western was able to keep Rockford off the base path again. With plenty of encouragement from their coaches, the Rockford players took the field in the top of the sixth and claimed the first out with a solid catch in center field by Liam Fitzpatrick. They earned the second out after handling a ground out to second base. The third batter earned a double after a fluke bounce that went over the outfielder’s head, but Rockford kept calm and Jacob Soltys took the mound and forced the final out on two pitches. The game moved to the bottom of the sixth.

It was then that the magic happened with Rockford facing elimination and looking at the wrong end of a 13-10 score. Jed Huyser (who already was 3-for-3 on the night) stepped up to the plate and smashed a single. Josiah Vega crushed a hit, advancing Huyser to second. Hunter Dawson was able to get a free ride to load the bases, and Tobin Pokorzynski walked to earn the first run for Rockford to move the score to 13-11. With the weight of the game on his shoulders – and two outs with bases loaded – Reed Binney stepped up to the plate and hit a hard shot to center for a single that plated two runs to tie the score 13-13. Blake Linsley came up to the plate and slammed a hit to center to earn a walk-off win for Rockford, with the final score 14-13.

Rockford utilized the talents of three pitchers to earn the win – with Ty Blystone starting and throwing a gem and Grayson Campbell and Soltys sharing relief duties on the mound. The team went 15-for-32 for the night, with Huyser going 4-for-4 with a double and four RBI to lead the team. Binney was 3-for-5 with a triple and four RBI. Linsley was 2-for-3 with a double, Soltys was 2-for-4 with a double, and Campbell was 2-for-2 with a double. Also adding to the Rockford offense, were Blystone, who had a timely triple, and Vega who had a hit and tallied an RBI.

The two teams meet again, Friday, July 20, at Pinery Park at 7:30 p.m. The winner will earn the Pool A championship and earn the right to move on to Final Bracket play.