EARLY — After dropping their tournament opener in extra innings, the Early Huskers fought their way through the consolation bracket, winning five consecutive games en route to the TTAB District 5 12 Open Base Tournament championship.
The Huskers forced a second championship game with a 12-1 victory over the Coleman Bluecats Thursday night, then came back Friday and collected an 11-1 win at the Early City Park to lock up the championship.
The Huskers also secured District 5's only spot in the 13-team TTAB District 12U Open Base State Tournament, which will be held at the Massey Sports Complex in Brownwood beginning July 24. The Brownwood Angels and Brownwood Pirates will also compete at the state tournament.
Early drew a total of 14 walks, while Caleb McCullough and Ki Houston collected three RBIs apiece to pace the Huskers' offensive attack in the tournament finale. On the mound, Caydon Laird and Hayden Schroeder teamed up to strike out nine Coleman batters.
The Huskers took control in the bottom of the first inning as Aidan Chapleau was hit by a pitch, Jeremy Brown drew a walk, and McCullough ripped a three-run home run off Coleman starting pitcher Brent Bowdin over the right-field fence. Laird then singled and later scored on an RBI ground out by Conner King.
Coleman answered with its lone run in the top of the second inning.
Guy Powell drew a leadoff walk and scored on a one-out RBI single up the middle by Jorge Sales.
Early stretched its advantage to 9-1 in the bottom of the second inning.
Schroeder led off with a walk and scored on Chapleau's RBI ground out. Weston Thornhill also walked — one of five in the inning by the Huskers — and came home on an RBI bases-loaded free pass to Laird. With two outs and the bases juiced, Houston tripled to right field to plate Brown, McCullough and Laird — who all walked — to extend the lead to eight runs.
Following scoreless innings in the third and fourth, the Huskers tacked on their final two runs in the bottom of the fifth to enforce the 10-run mercy rule.
King, Justin Pierce and Schroeder walked to load the bases, with King scoring following an errant pickoff throw at first base. Thornhill then recorded an RBI ground out that plated Pierce with the final run.