It was like Muhammad Ali and Walt Frazier on the baseball diamond at Boyd County National this past Wednesday when the Grayson and Olive Hill All-Stars met in the 11-12 year-old District 6 Area 1 Tournament.
Anytime one would throw a punch, the other would get a shot in themselves.
And in the end, like Ali, the Grayson All-Stars were the ones left standing.
Grayson’s Ethan Yates would hit the go-ahead single in the top of the sixth to break a 9-9 tie as the Blue and Red squad would score six times in the frame to defeat Olive Hill 15-9.
“He’s (Yates) worked hard and has been very clutch,” Grayson Coach Bryan Scott said. “When it came time to where we had to have the ball in play, he did what he needed to do. It was huge.”
But Scott’s team would not have been in that position to rally if not for Olive Hill’s fast start. Leading 1-0 in the bottom of the first, Olive Hill’s Dustin Martin would hit a grand slam to jump out to a 5-0 lead after the first frame.
“Dustin hit his first two homeruns ever in this tournament,” Adkins said. “He got hot and his confidence was sky high and our other kids hit the ball really well.”
Grayson would then fight back in the second, taking advantage of an error to score two runs to get back within three at 5-2. Olive Hill would get singles from Dakota Rayburn and Jake McGlone to lead 7-2 after two innings. In the third inning, a Noah Caudill single and a Yates two-out, two RBI double would have Grayson within two at 7-5.
Olive Hill would distance themselves in the bottom of the third frame on a two-RBI single to centerfield by Trace Tackett to have the Maroon clad All-Stars with a comfortable 9-5 lead.
But like Grayson did all game, they found a way to push runners across. Caden McDavid, with two runners on, hit a double to left, scoring Trey Scott and Lucas Young. Yates would drive in a run to bring Grayson within one run at 9-8. Grayson would tie it up in the fifth on McDavid’s groundout.
“We really did not play well,” Scott said. “We should not have been in the position we were but we battled back and didn’t quit and we came out on top.”
“We played well for five innings and it just fell apart,” Adkins said. “We’re really young but we’ll bounce back from this next year.”
The sixth saw Grayson make its move. The first two batters reached on base for Yates who deposited the ball in the outfield to score Max Shelton. Grayson would score two runs on bases loaded walks and a wild pitch home. Caudill would add a ground rule double that scored two runs to give Grayson a 15-9 lead.
“That’s what little league baseball is all about,” Scott said. “They played their hearts out.”
Scott added: “I thought if we could get over the hump and get even with them, we would be alright. We tied the game up and then the wheels sort of fell off for them.”
Adkins is proud of his group for getting two wins in the tournament but knows this one got away from his team.
“In a tournament like this, the pitch count really hurts,” Adkins said. “We ran out of pitchers but our guys threw the ball well. But it’s for the kids in helping their arm.”
“Hats off to Olive Hill,” Scott said. “They hit they ball and were not intimidated at all. They came ready to play and we were not. They woke us up really quick.”
MacKenzie Bates can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone at 1-800-247-6142.