The Lebanon Lions 15-year-old all-stars are believed to have made history Sunday by becoming the first Babe Ruth state champions from this community.
Jacob Davis’ second complete-game pitching performance within 48 hours lifted the Lions to a 1-0 win over Cookeville for the state crown late Sunday afternoon at Baird Park’s Charles A. Eskew Field.
A day before, Lebanon outscored Cookeville 10-4 as winning pitcher Jarred Bradshaw banged out four singles while striking out six in as many innings.
Davis opened the tournament with a complete-game, 5-1, win over Tullahoma on Friday night. The right-hander showed no sign of fatigue less than two days later as he closed out Cookeville’s season on 65 pitches, allowing five hits and a walk while striking out five.
Lebanon scored in the bottom of the fifth inning when Shannon Mansfield walked, moved up on Joseph Warren’s sacrifice bunt and crossed the plate on Will Adams’ two-out double.
That was all Davis needed to deliver history to the Cedar City.
“It’s awesome,” Lebanon manager Brian Kelley said less than 24 hours after the championship was won. “It’s something we never could have imagined.
“We don’t really have the best players, but they play great together and our pitching has been phenomenal.”
Lebanon will travel to the Richmond, Va., suburb of Varina next week for the Southeast Regional. The Lions have to be in Varina by next Tuesday. Games will begin the following day.
“They don’t give you much time,” Kelley said.
“They” also don’t give you much money as the league and the Lions Club have to raise what league president David McKinney estimated to be $5,000 for the trip.
“Because this is not travel ball, a lot of the kids who play for us are not able to pay for this kind of trip,” said McKinney, whose league does not charge a fee for kids to play.
Kelly, McKinney and others met at McKinney’s home Monday evening to work on details for fundraisers for the trip and the trip itself. The league president said donations are being accepted by calling him at 210-1868 or league treasurer Skip Guerte at 594-5671. Donations may also be made in person at the Lebanon/Wilson Chamber of Commerce on the Square. Checks should be made payable to the Lebanon Lions Club.
McKinney said he is hoping to tap into the estimated 5,000 alumni who have played in the league since it began as a Pony League organization in 1955. It joined the Babe Ruth League in ’56 and is in its 59th season as a Babe Ruth member.
“There are a lot of men in Lebanon who have a soft spot for Babe Ruth because they played in it and had a good time,” McKinney said.
Last Saturday, Matthew Harper singled twice, doubled and drew two walks for Lebanon while Mansfield smacked a two-run single. John Dowless relieved Bradshaw in the seventh and struck out two.