The McDowell County Little League All-Stars took the first step toward another District 7 championship on Monday, shutting out the Avery County Little League All-Stars 6-0 at Big League Camp.
The win puts McDowell in the driver’s seat, as they wait on both Avery and Morganton to battle it out to decide the team’s opponent this weekend in the District championship.
Pitching dominated Monday’s opener as McDowell All-Stars Levi Boone and Hayden Shelton combined for a one-hit shutout. Boone tossed five innings, allowing a hit and one walk with six strikeouts. Boone’s effort was also efficient enough, at just under 65 pitches, making him eligible when McDowell takes the field again this weekend.
The lone hit allowed was a one-out single by Aaron King in the bottom of the third. Otherwise, Boone was on-point the entire time as there was just one other ball reaching the outfield in his work. Along with the half a dozen strikeouts, seven additional outs came on grounders to the infield.
Offensively, McDowell scratched across single runs in each of the first three innings of play. Then, in the sixth, McDowell doubled its advantage with three insurance runs. That all set up an easy sixth for Shelton as he struck out the side to end the game.
Those first three runs for McDowell were largely a product of its speed and aggressiveness on the bases. Dakota Aldridge tripled to left to lead off the contest. He was pushed in by Braden Gardin’s RBI single with two outs, putting McDowell in front 1-0.
In the second Isaac Gilliland (2-2, double, 2R) doubled, then reached third and scored on a slow grounder by Drue Rose, making it 2-0.
Gardin struck again in the third, making it 3-0 on another RBI hit, scoring Alex Barnes (1-3, triple).
Gardin finished with three hits overall. Gilliland also had a multi-hit game and three others, including Boone, had one hit apiece.
The District 7 championship will begin on Saturday with McDowell only needing one win to advance to the State Tournament. The site of Saturday’s game is yet to be determined.