The Hickory Grove Braves defeated Revolution 15-14 in the York Parks and Recreation Department’s O-Zone Tournament championship before a lively crowd at the York Recreation Complex.
Regulation play ended with the teams deadlocked at 11-all after six innings, extending the game to the seventh inning.
Jevon Long got things started for the Braves with a solid single, advancing to second base on the throw in. After Long stole third, teammates J.T. Tovar and Andrew Howell drew walks, loading bases for the Hickory Grove team.
Weston Hance stepped to the plate, drawing a walk that scored Long from third. The Braves pushed across two more runs later in the inning on a throwing error.
Hance scored the fourth run of the inning on a misplayed ball in the infield, staking Hickory Grove to a 15-11 advantage entering the home half of the seventh.
After Simon Bean reached on an infield error, Demong McComb followed with a single, leaving runners at first and third. Luke Whitesides ground out pushed a run across the plate for Revolution.
After Chase Green walked, Revolution scored two runs on an errant throw to first base, slicing Hickory Grove’s lead to 15-14.
But the Braves held on to win.
With Revolution leading 10-3 after four innings, the Braves pushed across four runs in the top fifth, slicing the lead to 10-7.
A single by Chase Moss left runners at first and second. Next, Kenny Melton drew a walk, loading the bases with Braves. Chance Patterson made contact, sending two runs across the plate.
Another Braves run scored on an error. Later, Howell was walked with the bases loaded, sending run No. 4 across the plate in a productive fifth inning for the Braves.
Revolution added a run in the bottom of the inning when a ground-out scored Smith, who had singled sharply to open the inning.
Trailing 11-7 in the top of the sixth, Hickory Grove loaded the bases in the top of the sixth, Hance scored on a wild pitch. Zach Tipton was issued a walk, loading the bases once again.
The next batter for the Braves, Porter Faulkner, drew a walk, scoring Justin Williams and reducing Revolution’s lead to 11-9.
Moss walked, scoring Joey Jacinto. When Melton was issued a free pass, the score was tied at 11-11.
The Braves held the Revolution bats in check in the bottom of the inning, forcing the extra inning showdown.
Hickory Grove head coach Kevin Faulkner lauded the players for the manner in which the Braves responded to adversity during the championship game.
“Several times there, when they really could’ve gotten down, they kept their heads up and kept playing,” he said. “That’s a big thing. You never want your kids to quit.”
Faulkner said the Braves players refused to buckle when challenged throughout the season. “They never quit all year,” he said. “They started out 0-5 and improved every game.”
While proud of the team’s title win, Faulkner said the game never becomes too big for the kids.
“We’re out here to have fun,” he said. “At this age, it’s having fun and getting the kids out here playing ball. They’re out here to learn.”
Despite the narrow loss in the championship tournament showdown, Revolution head coach Scott Burns spoke in glowing terms of the players’ commitment.
“We had a good year and improved a ton from the beginning of the year,” said Burns. “We have a lot of first-time players and a lot of kids with not very much experience. Yet we won the regular season.”
Burns said the team suffered a setback when one of the best players broke his arm halfway through the season.
“Andrew Kinsey was our catcher and clean-up hitter,” said Burns. “We missed him half of the season. Other kids stepped up in his place. We had a good year.”
Burns was pleased with the way the Revolution hitters swung the bats in the tournament title game.
“Demong McComb had two doubles and Brantley Nichols had two hits,” he said. “Simon Bean and Brayson Smith also hit the ball well.”