The boys 11-12 senior league regular season has flown by and two teams emerged at the end as co-champions.
In the final night of regular season games Thursday at Dottie West Field, Gary Steele Karate topped Netherton Dentistry 11-0 to finish the season 7-1. It matched the record McMinnville Physical Therapy finished with as each team staked a claim to the top spot this season.
Also on the final night, Custom Collision edged Gateway Tire 1-0 to forge a tie for third place. Both teams ended the year 3-5 overall.
Tiebreakers were used to seed the tournament – starting this Tuesday, May 27 – and Gary Steele Karate earned the top spot while Custom Collision received the No. 3 seed. Runs scored and runs given up were factored into the tiebreakers.
Knowing the top spot was on the line, which comes with a first-round tournament bye, Gary Steele Karate made quick work of Netherton Dentistry.
Braden Bottoms led the charge as he finished with three hits and two RBIs while also earning the win on the mound. Bottoms tossed a complete-game shutout while striking out eight and allowing only two hits.
Xander Lee got the scoring started in the first inning when he hit a inside-the-park home run off Dawson Waldron on the game’s fifth pitch. Bottoms followed with a single and was able to score on a double by Jalen Haston.
Logan Thomason and Dallas Green also had run-scoring singles in the top of the first to help Gary Steele Karate take a 4-0 lead.
The advantage ballooned to nine in the second inning when the heart of the Gary Steele Karate lineup strung together six straight hits. Lee and Bottoms started the streak with back-to-back doubles while Carter Mansfield, Haston, Thomason and Green followed with RBI singles. By the time Green singled for the second time to score Thomason, Gary Steele Karate led 9-0.
Netherton Dentistry looked to mount a rally in the bottom of the second inning. Noah Martin led off the frame with a single and Carter Smith followed by drawing a walk. With two on and nobody out, Bottoms locked down the Netherton Dentistry offense.
Bottoms struck out three batters in a row, continuing a streak where the dominant righty recorded eight straight outs by strikeout from the middle of the first inning to the end of the third.
Gary Steele Karate padded its lead with two more runs in the third inning. Jalyn Mart started a streak of four straight hits with a lead-off single and would come around to score on a single by Lee. Bottoms and Mansfield added singles as well – the second bringing in Lee to push the lead to 11-0.
Bottoms finished off the blowout by keeping Netherton Dentistry off the scoreboard in the final two innings. Drake Todd had a single in the third inning for Netherton Dentistry, but the team failed to score as Smith was stranded on third base in the bottom of the fourth after drawing a two-out walk.
Lee, Bottoms and Green led Gary Steele Karate with three hits each. Mansfield, Haston and Thomason added two hits each while Mart added a single.
While scoring was easy for Gary Steele Karate in Thursday’s second game, offense was absent in the game between Custom Collision and Gateway Tire after the top of the first.
Heath Kuykendall proved to be the winning run when he singled to start the game and scored later on a single by Jathan Cagle.
Kuykendall continued to help power Custom Collision to a victory by pitching four solid innings before giving way to Will Rivers. Kuykendall allowed only one hit during his time on the mound – a triple in the first inning by Jared Scruggs. Kuykendall was able to keep Scruggs on third by striking out the next two batters, part of a seven-strikeout night for the Custom Collision starter.
Rivers picked up right where Kuykendall left off in the final two innings. Rivers allowed only one hit in his two innings of work, though it came in the sixth inning when Gateway Tire nearly knotted the score.
Hayden Lytle gave his team a surge when he ripped a single up the middle. Skylar Pack followed with a groundout to shortstop where Lytle was forced out at second base. Pack used his speed to swipe second and third base following the fielder’s choice, putting the game-tying run just a hit away from scoring.
Rivers made sure there was no late drama however. Rivers held tough as he recorded back-to-back strikeouts to end the game and earn the save.
Kuykendall, Rivers, Cagle and Kelby Jones finished with one hit each in the win. Omari Harris took the tough loss for Gateway Tire as he allowed one run on four hits while striking out 10.
Two tournament games are set to be played Tuesday night. Gateway Tire and Netherton Dentistry start things off at Dottie West Field at 5:30 p.m. McMinnville Physical Therapy takes on Custom Collision at 7 p.m.