The May Tigers 10U baseball team’s season came to a dramatic end Friday after a walk-off single by Coleman in the second district championship game resulted in a 17-16 loss.
The Tigers found themselves in a dogfight early, taking the first game 8-7 with a walk-off single only to fall in the same fashion in game two after a controversial call at first base.
“That Coleman team is a good team,” May coach Chad Dail said. “They’re a solid team. They’re going to make a good state run. It came down to one out. It was a good, tight game and that’s the way you want it. That’s the way you want a district championship game to be. We enjoyed it and we learned from it. I told the kids, ‘You learn more from a loss than you do a win.’ We’ll come back next year.”
Despite a strong performance by starting pitcher Cayson Dail, who tallied five strikeouts before leaving in the third with a high pitch count, the Coleman Bluecats put one on the board in the first on a passed ball. Coleman stretched its lead to 5-0 on groundout RBI, a passed ball and a two-run RBI double by Coleman catcher Easton Meador.
“We always tell them, ‘You’re never out,’” Dail said. “I don’t care if you’re down by 50, you’re never out. That’s the way baseball is and why it’s a fun sport to play. We always tell them to keep their heads up. No matter what the score is never drop your head. All it takes is a couple of good hits and you can get things rolling.”
Staring down the barrel of a five-run deficit, the Tigers seemed to get the timing of Coleman pitcher Brayden Torres. A lead-off triple by Eli Pallette put a runner in scoring position, then Watkins drove him in on a single to break the shutout. Watkins added another run moments later after taking home plate on a passed ball, pulling May within three runs. May’s bats went quiet in the fourth, but that seemed the calm before the storm as the Tigers would erupt for five runs to tie the game thanks RBIs from Hunter Sider, who later scored on a passed ball, Lane Goodson and Jack Newell, who was then driven in by Jackson Lusk. Representing the go-ahead run, Kaden Psencik nearly had an inside the park home run, but was narrowly tagged out at home and had to settle with a 7-7 tie with his two-RBI double going into the sixth and final inning. With two outs, and risking going into extra innings, Cayson Dail drove in Lane Goodson with a hard shot down the right field line for the win.
Cayson Dail seemed to keep his form in the game two, driving in the Tigers’ first run in the first, then Brian Shannon added another run in the second after driving in Psencik on a shot along with left field line. The Tigers’ lead lasted only a few moments as, similar to game one, Coleman blasted them for six runs. The explosion had a doubled effect because it forced May’s starting pitcher to the bench after reaching his pitch limit and made coaches turn to a pitcher they had no intention of using, but are glad they did.
“We were completely out of pitching,” Dail said. “I had not planned on pitching [Pallette], but things did not work out the way we wanted them to. We had some errors in the first inning and that made us burn the pitcher I had planned on going the distance. We ended up having to bring Pallette in and man did he come alive. He did a great job for us and pitched lights out there for a little while.”
Coleman added a pair of runs in the second inning, then four in the third, but the run production tapered off once Pallette entered in the fourth inning. He may have been riding the momentum built by May earlier in the third inning after Tiger batters tied the game at 8 on RBIs from Dail, Lusk, Novell, Sider, Psencik, Watkins, Goodson and Pallet.
Pallette’s pitching remained strong, but defensive miscues allowed Coleman to retake the lead until May batters added another five runs in the fifth, but Coleman matched them score-for-score. An RBI single by Shannon drove in Goodson to tie the game at 16-16, setting up the game deciding play at first.
“Coleman played a good game and they got this one from us,” Chad Dail said. “I’ve had them since they were in T-ball and the continue to get better and grow. I can’t say enough about their character and love for the game. They’re passionate about it … These kids are great kids. I’m just excited about the future.”