The McDowell County Little League 10-12 year-old All-Stars’ road through the state of North Carolina ended this past weekend in a pair of losses at the 2019 North Carolina Little League State Tournament which was being played in Kernersville.
One of the most recurring themes for McDowell in state tournament play was its struggles defensively. After looking nearly flawless in winning the District 7 championship, the team had its difficulties in getting outs when they were needed.
Unfortunately at the state level, both of McDowell’s opponents were able to capitalize on those mistakes.
In Saturday’s opener, North Asheville put together six runs in the first and fourth innings and was able to hold off McDowell by a score of 12-8.
North Asheville’s first inning consisted of four hits, however one fielding error in the first along with three walks in the frame gave the designated home team the extra chances at the plate.
Down 6-2 after two innings, McDowell cut the deficit in half, scoring twice in the top of the third inning. Job Marsh led off the frame with a single. He then stole second and third and ultimately scored when Dakota Aldridge reached on an error.
Aldridge then used his quickness on the bases to reach third, allowing Braden Gardin’s sacrifice to center to make it a two run game at 6-4.
It remained at that score until the bottom of the fourth when North Asheville duplicated the effort of the first inning, scoring six more times, putting the game away.
McDowell did score once in the fifth on a solo home run by Alex Barnes, and added three more in the sixth, but ultimately ran out of chances.
Gardin, Barnes, and Marsh finished with two hits apiece with Aldridge, Levi Boone, Zeb Street, Hunter Brown and Isaac Gilliland adding one hit apiece.
In Sunday’s elimination game, McDowell once again faced an early deficit and could not overcome those early miscues in a 6-3 loss against Rutherfordton.
McDowell pitcher Hayden Shelton allowed six runs in the top of the first, however only two of those runs were earned. Defensively, the team committed three infield errors in the frame while Rutherfordton mustered only two hits and a third player reached on a fielder’s choice to give them the early lead.
After the rough opening frame McDowell had a steadier glove the rest of the way as no more errors were committed. The combination of Shelton and relief pitcher Dakota Aldridge allowed no runs on five hits after the first inning, striking out six and walking none.
McDowell got on the board in the top of the third. Mason Brewer lined a base hit that hit the top of the wall in right center, just staying in the park. Job Marsh then singled to right-center, scoring courtesy runner Christian Elliott to make it 6-1.
Then in the fifth, two more McDowell runs scored to get the Little Leaguers back to a 6-3 deficit. Zeb Street and Kamden Elkins both walked to begin the fifth. Courtesy runner Isaac Gilliland then scored from third on a fielding error by Rutherfordton and Elkins crossed home on a fielder’s choice.
Unfortunately, that was as close as McDowell got as the side was struck out in the sixth, ending the game and the team’s run in the tournament.
McDowell County Little League, with the loss over the weekend, concluded another solid campaign in 2019 as they had District 7 champions in both the 9-11 and 10-12 age groups. For the Majors Division, McDowell advanced to the state tournament for the third consecutive season.