- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
Hughesville, Burroughs down Bethesda for 11-12 Dist. 7 baseball championship
By DALLAS COGLEStaff writer
Country boy strength.
That’s what the Hughesville All-Stars flexed, living up to their native reputation, while the city-based boys of Bethesda were unable to tap into such a wellspring of power Monday to decide the 11- to 12-year-old District 7 baseball championship at Pisgah Park in Indian Head.
Hughesville cranked five home runs, three alone coming from the bat of corner infielder Clark Burroughs, to overpower Bethesda in a 16-5 outcome that was shortened a couple of frames to four innings due to the mercy rule.
“It was just fun,” Burroughs simply said to describe his power display with a long ball in each of his three at-bats off as many different pitchers, as he let his bat do most of the talking.
Burroughs’ career performance, having never gone deep more than twice previously in any game, saw him boast seven RBIs — almost accounting for half his team’s bountiful offense.
In the process of capturing the district banner to clinch a berth into the Brunswick-hosted state tournament beginning Saturday, Hughesville avenged a heartbreaking 13-11 setback to Bethesda in Sunday’s winner’s bracket final. Bethesda plated five runs in its final at-bat to rally from a 10-8 deficit to start the sixth and pull out the dramatic comeback victory.
In Monday’s “if” game, Bethesda picked up where it left off by putting its first seven batters on base in the opening inning via three hits and four walks. Four of them scored for an early 4-0 lead, chasing Hughesville starting pitching J.T. Bruce from the game.
Hughesville reliever Seth White, after allowing his initial two batters to reach, quickly shut the door in the first by escaping a bases-loaded, no-outs jam by inducing a bloop-out to shortstop and then spearing a liner to the mound and turning a double play when a Bethesda base runner could not get back to the bag.
White then got the support he needed in the bottom of the first as Hughesville answered with a half-dozen runs to bounce back with a 6-4 lead.
First baseman Zach Roberts started the home-run heroics for Hughesville with a three-run shot on a high-fly to left-center in the first, followed two batters later by the first of Burroughs’ three shots.
“I just think they didn’t have any pitching left and all they could do was try to throw strikes,” Roberts said of the bind Bethesda was in on the mound after his 2-for-3 showing for the district title, scoring twice and driving in four. “It feels great [to be district champions].”
After using a Bethesda error to notch a final run in the first, Hughesville continued its offensive onslaught with seven more runs in the second.
Left fielder Daniel Vannemann sank Bethesda’s spirits with a one-out, three-run blast the other way over the right field fence to cap Hughesville’s scoring in the second, comfortably ahead by a 13-4 count entering the third.
White had Bethesda raising white flag
The run support was more than enough for White, who sailed through the second and third by holding Bethesda’s dangerous lineup scoreless in each of those frames.
White’s stellar relief outing included just one run allowed, that coming in his final frame of work, in four innings on four hits while fanning three, walking one and hitting a batter to notch the win on the mound.
White was every bit as essential to clinching the district title as Hughesville’s home run parade.
“First of all, what does outing mean,?” White sincerely asked when asked about how important his outing was for Hughesville’s sake. “I’m very proud of myself and my team, too. Once you get up on the mound, it’s just you don’t think about anything else but pitching. It comes pretty naturally.”
“We came in with above-normal confidence. We don’t like to lose. When we lose, we like to prove teams wrong.”
Hughesville manager Mike McAllister added, “The thing with our team is we’re balanced in all aspects of the game, pitching and hitting and defense. When we put this team together, we have 11 kids on the roster and all 11 of them can go on the mound and pitch. We knew, even yesterday after getting beat, that I still had four pitchers I could put on the mound and be confident with them going all the way to the end.
“It happened to work out where we needed just two pitchers today.”
Pitch-count rules in Little League mandate a certain amount of days off in between outings depending on how many pitches are thrown.
Bethesda manager Ray Thomas did not have the luxury of turning to a front-line starter on the mound by the “if” game.
“My biggest concern is we had to go to our second-tier guys tonight [on the mound] and obviously we got pounded. We’ve got three premiere pitchers and they couldn’t pitch tonight,” said Thomas, who described his team’s win Sunday as an all-time classic. “[White] was effective because he had a good second pitch.”
Bethesda slugger Brian Huang was contained to just a 1-for-3 display in the “if” game with a double. He hit seven homers in the district tournament, according to Thomas, and was 18 for 23 during Bethesda’s six wins entering the “if” game.
Bethesda lost its first game in the tournament on July 9 before winning the next six days preceding the “if” game.
“He was our Burroughs,” Thomas said of Huang.
Most jaw-dropping about the right-handed Burroughs’ production was how far and where he crushed his long balls, almost as if he were putting on his own version of a home run derby.
His first homer was a two-run shot in the opening inning, giving Hughesville the lead for good at 5-4, as he lined the ball well over the fence in straightaway center. An inning later, he produced a three-run job in near carbon-copy fashion over the center-field fence about 10 to 15 feet right of his first homer.
Then in the bottom of the third, Burroughs, 11, saved his most majestic deep ball for last as he parked a no-doubter way over the right field fence, going the other way with ease, to give Hughesville a 15-4 cushion to eventually clinch the win by the mercy rule.
“Just to go to work,” Burroughs said of his mentality at the plate. “Sit back and hit it to right field.”
Hughesville ace pitcher Kevin Wood, who could not take the mound Monday due to pitch-count rules, added about his team’s power surge, “It’s unbelievable.”
Hughesville 16, Bethesda 5 (4 inn.)
Bethesda 400 1 5 6 2
Hughesville 673 x 16 13 1
WP White, LP MorelExtra-base hits: 2B Huang (B), Russell (H); HR Burroughs (H) 3, Roberts (H), Vannemann (H)