Times Sports Editor
The Valley All-Stars based in Owen Valley took a half inning to get focused against the Clay County 10-and-under team in the District 6 championship game Monday night.
By the time the Valley squad recorded three outs, they had been staggered by a nine-run first-inning outburst by Clay County, which scored a 14-4 win in four innings.
The victory earned the Clay County team coached by Jeff Stewart, a spot in the Cal Ripken state tournament. Owen Valley also qualified with its runner-up finish in the five-team district tourney.
The opening frame began innocently enough as Owen Valley recorded an out as Tanner Knust grounded out. However, the next seven batters reached and scored a run as Clay Clay County staked a comfy lead.
Tucker Stewart started the outburst with an infield single and moved to second on a wild pitch. Hunter Wolfe followed with another infield single, this one to shortstop. Sam Mace came to the plate and hit a flyball to rightfield that was dropped to score Stewart. Wolfe then came home as the throw to third base went to the fence.
The lead continued to grow when Smith stole second base and came home when Blake Mershon rapped an RBI single.
A mental mistake by the Valley All-Stars allowed the next run to score as Cameron Brown hit an infield grounder. The ball was played, but the throw was too late to the plate and all runners were safe. Mitchell Howald scored on the play and Mershon came home on a passed ball.
The lineup flipped over as both Knust and Stewart walked for Clay County. Wolfe then followed with a fielder's choice RBI. Mace added the final RBI of the inning on another fielder's choice.
The nine-run lead might have appeared to be safe, but Owen Valley rallied behind two errors to start the bottom half of the inning. A single by TC Yeatman and another by Bo Elliott got the Valley rebound on the way. Hunter Sturgeon followed by smacking a sharp grounder off Clay County pitcher Tucker Stewart's leg to reach safely. Clay County did get the first out on a force play at second.
Sturgeon followed with a stolen base attempt against Mace, the Clay County catcher. The CYL All-Stars played it everything perfectly, sending the throw to the shortstop and then relayed the ball back to the plate to get Yeatman trying to steal home.
Clay County didn't get out completely unscathed as Derrick Crowe lined a two-run single to get the Valley team within 9-4.
From there however it was all Clay County.
The CYL played add-on with a three-run homerun by Wolfe that brought home Knust, who had doubled, and Stewart.
In the top half of the fourth inning, Clay County added two more runs on an infield single by Howald, a single by pinch-hitter Seth Barrett and an RBI single by Quinton Hayes. Knust followed with an RBI groundout to push the advantage to 10 runs at 14-4.
In the bottom half of the inning, the Valley put two runners on, but Stewart ended the game by coaxing groundouts by Holden Abrell and striking out Joseph Musgrove. He got Yeatman via groundout to end the contest.
The win advances Clay County to the Cal Ripken state tourney beginning on Thursday at Forest Park. The CYL 10's play on Friday evening at 5:30 p.m.
Cal Ripken 10-and-under
District 6 championship
2B -- CC (Knust). OV (Roberts). HR -- CC (Wolfe).