Randy Keener smashed a two-out, two-run triple to right field in the top of the seventh, driving home what proved to be the winning runs in Bridgeport’s 4-2 victory over St. Albans in the championship game of the West Virginia Little League 9-10-year-old tournament Wednesday evening at Little Creek Park in South Charleston.
“He comes off the bench for us and he’s worked his tail-end off,” Bridgeport coach Terry Cole said of Keener. “We’re so excited for him.”
The win is Bridgeport’s sixth in six days after defeating Barboursville 11-5 in Tuesday’s semifinals.
Bridgeport jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the top of the first and used some stellar pitching and defense to hold St. Albans scoreless through three innings. Bridgeport starting pitcher Casey Tomasik tossed 3 1/3 innings of shutout ball before having to be taken out for reaching a pitch count of 75.
St. Albans capitalized on the pitching change when Carson Womack singled up the middle to score Ty Roy and Levi Blake in the bottom of the fourth to tie the game at 2.
Both teams threatened in the sixth inning. Bridgeport’s Cameron Cole singled and Gene Hutchinson walked but were unable to score, and St. Albans’ Cole Binion belted a one-out triple and Wes Frame walked but both were left stranded.
In the top of the seventh, Tomasik doubled to center to lead off the inning and Tanner Bastin followed with a single to put two on with no outs. After Brigdeport’s Mitchell Duez grounded into a fielder’s choice, St. Albans changed pitchers, bringing in Roy for reliever Carson McCoy. Roy struck out Bridgeport’s J.T. Muller before Keener cleared the bases with a triple.
“It came down to who got the first big hit in crunch time,” said St. Albans’ coach Roger Chambers. “It was two solid teams. [Bridgeport] is a good ball club.”
Depth played a big role in Bridgeport’s win, only having to use two pitchers while St. Albans, which defeated Shinnston 10-5 in the semifinals, used four.
“We had 22 kids to choose from and we went with the 13 that we have here,” said Cole. “But the four that we have coming off the bench, we feel they could start for any team in the state.”
Chambers said he and his players felt the effects of having to play so many consecutive days in a row.
“Six games in six days. I’ve been around baseball 40 years and I’ve never done that and thats including four years of college,” he said. “It was a lot of pressure on the kids but they played well, gave their heart and a lot of determination. We’re real proud of them. They represented the community well.”
Cameron Cole led Bridgeport at the plate, going 3 for 4 and scoring a run, while Tomasik and Bastin each went 2 for 3. Roy went 2 for 4 for St. Albans.
The win sends Bridgeport to Greenville, N.C., next week to play in the national tournament, the highest level for 9-10-year-olds.
“This is a really close-knit group and they’ve played hard all year long,” said Cole. “We couldn’t be more proud of them.”