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Foodland Plus wins title
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If Foodland Plus was supposed to be feeling the pressure of an unbeaten year entering the tournament finals in the boys 9-10 junior league, somebody forgot to tell Eli Jones.
Jones struck out 14 in a complete-game victory and added three hits and four RBIs as Foodland Plus defeated Security Federal 8-3 to earn the tournament title.
Each time something big happened for Foodland Plus, Jones seemed to be in the middle of the action.
When Foodland Plus needed a clutch hit, Jones would come through. If Security Federal put together a rally, Jones would slam the door quickly.
Jacob Lann began the scoring in the bottom of the first for Foodland Plus. Lann led off with a triple, then stole home on a passed ball to make it 1-0.
Jones followed with a single and moved into scoring position with a pair of stolen bases. Jones strolled home on a single by Brady Gross as Foodland Plus left the first inning with a two-run cushion.
Jones made quick work of Security Federal in the second inning. Jones struck out the side as he started racking up Ks in bunches.
Following the scoreless inning by Security Federal, Foodland Plus began to widen its lead.
Justin Rochon walked to begin the second, then Jason Stevens followed with a single to put runners on the corners for Lann.
Lann scored Rochon with a single, putting Foodland Plus ahead 3-0. Dawson Waldron followed with a run-scoring single of his own before Jones added a back-breaking, two-run double.
Jones hit a deep shot into left field, giving Lann and Waldron plenty of time to cross home. The stand-up double gave Foodland Plus a 6-0 advantage, one Jones would never relinquish.
Jones began the third inning with two straight strikeouts, moving his streak to six straight before Heath Kuykendall finally put the ball in play. Kuykendall grounded out to first base, leaving Security Federal without a hit through three innings.
Foodland Plus went scoreless in the third, leaving the door open for a potential rally for Security Federal.
Omari Harris gave Security Federal its first hit when he grounded a ball to Waldron at shortstop and beat the throw to first.
After Harris removed the goose egg in the hit column, Andrew Palmer made sure Security Federal wouldn’t go scoreless.
Palmer smashed a double to the right-field fence and Harris was able to slide under a tag at home to get Security Federal on the board.
Palmer, who advanced to third on the throw home, would score on a single by Brayden Scott as Security Federal cut the lead to 6-2 entering the bottom of the fourth.
Jones helped get one run back quickly as his two-out triple scored Lann in the bottom of the fourth.
Kuykendall answered back in the top of the fifth with an RBI triple of his own, but it would be the final run Security Federal would score.
After Stevens made it 8-3 in the bottom of the fifth with an RBI single to score Eli Buchanon, Jones battled out of a sixth-inning jam to secure the championship.
Jones allowed a lead-off single to Scott, but followed with his 13th strikeout. Samuel Cope and Jordan McCormack followed with back-to-back singles, but Security Federal’s hopes of a comeback were dashed when Scott was thrown out at home trying to score on McCormack’s single.
With two outs and two runners on, Jones got the final batter to strike out looking as Foodland Plus rushed the field to celebrate its second championship of the season.
Foodland Plus won the regular-season title with a 9-0 record, then followed it up by winning three games in the single-elimination tournament.
Jones finished 3-for-3 in the championship, while Lann and Stevens added two hits apiece. Waldron, Gross and Jackson Smith chipped in one hit each.
Scott led Security Federal with two hits and one RBI. Kuykendall, Harris, Palmer, Cope and McCormack had one hit apiece.
Palmer took the loss, surrendering eight runs on 10 hits while striking out 11.