November 6 - McKenna Huff launched a grand slam in a five RBI effort and Luke Holmes drove in the game-winning run in the seventh inning the lift the Burke Bulldogs Black over the Alexandria Aces, 7-6, in the 12u Gold End of the Season championship last night at Barcroft Park.
On the final day of the fall season, neither team wanted to end their season with the bad taste of a loss as both teams fought and clawed for seven innings on a slick, water-logged field.
“Our team has built themselves up to where they don’t quit,” Bulldogs’ coach Ben Schull said. “We have played the Aces before and it is always a battle and we knew the game was not over until the last out was recorded.”
“These guys never give up and they are a great group of kids,” Aces’ coach Chad White said. “They always show fight and this team is never out of anything.”
With the Bulldogs leading by three runs heading into the sixth inning, Nick Foster delivered the clutch hit for the Aces with two outs, clearing the bases and tying the game at six to send the game to extra innings.
In the extra frame, both teams started with a runner on second base. The Bulldogs were able to take the lead on a run-scoring single from Holmes and then retire the Aces in the bottom-half. Holmes, who blew the save in the sixth, made the necessary adjustment and picked up the win for his team with a scoreless seventh inning.
“I was proud of how [Luke] recovered and came back and still threw hard in the last inning,” Schull said. “I told him we still need him and his arm and he came out and pitched great.”
Huff’s grand slam provided the spark the Bulldogs needed to establish momentum early in the game, as Alex Ward followed with a home run of his own to supplement a five-run third inning for the Bulldogs.
“I was looking for a base hit because I was just looking to score runs and it just hit the sweet spot,” Huff said. “I could hear them all screaming from the dugout and I was screaming too.”
“Hitting on our team is very contagious," Schull said. "Those home runs were a big lift and it put me a little bit at ease because I know the Aces can hit the ball.”
In the bottom of the third, the Aces got on the board on an RBI from Keenan Reynolds and in the fourth, proved why Schull was uncomfortable, even with a five-run lead. After Foster reached on an error with two outs, Drew Hartman hit a two-run home run to make it a 6-3 game.
“With this team, we just need a couple hits or a to get a guy on and we can get a home run,” White said. “I bat 12 guys and all 12 of our guys can hit home runs so I have confidence with everyone on this team.”
Bulldogs’ starter Sam Tisler went five strong innings, allowing three runs on four hits with the only extra base hit coming in the form of the Hartman home run. Tisler and Holmes combined to throw double-digit strikeouts as each recorded five in the game for the Bulldogs.
“Sam is always around the zone and he also has a little bit of late movement on his fastball, so he is very hard to square up,” Schull said. “He is one of the best pitchers I have coached in terms of being able to hit his spots and do all the things he is able to do at 12 years old.”
The Aces finish their fall season winning three of their final four games. The Bulldogs conclude their fall schedule, winning five of their last six games en route to the 12u Gold championship.
“It’s awesome,” Huff said on ending the season with a championship win. “It got a little crazy [when they tied the game], but I love baseball for the suspense.”
Photo by Josh Belanger