In the battle of summer baseball league heavyweights, the North Florida Black Sox 19U of Panama City, Fla., rallied past Troy Post 70 7-6 in the championship of the Gary “Tiny” Bernath Memorial tournament at Northcutt Field in Dothan on Sunday.
Across town at Pitman Field in the 17U championship game, Troy Post 12 came out on top in defeating tournament-host Wiregrass Cardinals Red 6-1.
In the 19U game, Troy — comprised of many former Wiregrass high school stars — sent eight batters to the plate in the opening inning and benefitted from six hits in taking an early 4-0 lead.
Davis Allen led off with a bunt single and Matt Snell moved him over with a single into right field. Jake Killingsworth then singled just inside the first base bag to score Allen for the first run of the game.
After D.J. Law was hit by a pitch to load the bases, Sam Tompkins singled past shortstop to bring in Snell in making it 2-0.
With the bases still full, Coleman Wright grounded into a double play, but Killingsworth crossed the plate for the third run of the inning. Cole Smith then singled to bring Law to make it a 4-0 advantage.
With former Providence Christian and Troy University signee Grayson Stewart looking sharp early on the mound, it appeared Troy was well on its way to a title.
Stewart struck out four in the first two innings and allowed just one hit before getting into trouble in the third inning.
After a walk to begin the top of the third followed by an error, Christian Beasley singled in a run to cut the lead to 4-1. A North Florida baserunner was caught in a rundown and tagged out during the throw to the infield for the first out.
A single loaded the bases, but it appeared Troy would avoid any further damage after a sharp line drive was caught at shortstop for what looked to be an easy double play. But the throw over to second to get the base runner who had broken towards third on the play was wild and another run scored to make it 4-2.
Stewart did get a strikeout for the final out.
Troy got another run in the bottom of the inning when Killingsworth, who had walked and advanced to second on a single by Law, scored after Wright grounded into what would have been a double play, but the throw to first went wild.
North Florida scored two in the top of the fourth off Troy reliever Logan Ross to pull within 5-4, but Troy made it 6-4 in the bottom of the inning when Snell drove in Bryce Peavy with a sacrifice fly to deep right field.
In the fifth, a sacrifice fly by Blake Vineyard cut the lead to 6-5 and another run would score in the inning on a groundout to tie it up.
Snell, who had been the designated hitter, entered in relief of Ross on the mound in the seventh inning and promptly got a groundout and fly out to start the inning.
However, Mason Smith singled and stole second and Vineyard came through in the clutch with a single past third base to drive in what would be the game-winning run.
Zach Fletcher, who entered in relief of North Florida starter Warren Stovall in the third inning, sat down Troy in order in the bottom of the seventh, which included two strikeouts, to end the game.
North Florida went unbeaten through the tournament with four wins.
17U tournament: Troy Post 70 won the championship over the Wiregrass Cardinals Red 17U 6-1 as Tanner Hall pitched five innings without allowing an earned run to pick up the victory on the mound.
Troy got hits from Parker Sessions, Bailey Sparrow, Lane Ballard, Harrison Mims, Jackson Pierce and Drew Shiver.
The Wiregrass Cardinals got an RBI double off the bat of Cason Eubanks for its lone run.
Earlier on Sunday, the Cardinals Red defeated the Yard Goats 7-1.
On Friday, Troy defeated the Yard Goats 12-2, Cardinals Red defeated Allstar A’s 15-0 and Cardinals Blue 15U defeated Southeast Elite 9-3.
On Saturday, the Yard Goats defeated Cardinals Blue 7-5, Troy defeated Allstar A’s 15-0, Cardinals Red defeated Southeast Elite 5-4, Troy defeated Cardinals Blue 8-6 and Southeast Elite defeated Allstar A’s 12-3.