The Lafayette Little League 11-12-year-old all-star squad played its best baseball in the district tournament when its backs were against the wall.
The locals managed to rally to win the District 2 Tournament championship with back-to-back wins over Westmoreland.
“It was amazing to watch,” Lafayette head coach Derek Meador said. “They didn’t quit. They could have. They kept stepping it up.”
The squad narrowly escaped from the area tournament, which was played in Hartsville.
Two of the three teams participating in the area tournament advanced to the district tournament.
Lafayette captured a 9-8 win over Hartsville before suffering a 12-2 loss to Westmoreland.
“After the first game in Hartsville, we knew we were already advancing. We were looking for pitchers. We had five that we knew of, but we had to find out what our defense looks like with this guy pitching or with that guy pitching.”
However, Lafayette faced Westmoreland three more times in the district tournament, which was held in Sparta.
The locals opened play with a 10-7 win over Smith County, but following a rainout the next day, Lafayette suffered a 3-2 loss to Westmoreland.
Another rainout preceded a 7-5 win over Gallatin, placing Lafayette in the championship game against unbeaten Westmoreland.
“They got the nervous jitters out,” Meador said. “In the first (area) tournament, we were making errors these kids don’t make. Now, they are settling in.”
However, Lafayette captured a 10-7 win over Westmoreland in the first championship game, followed by a 17-15 victory over Westmoreland in the winner-take-all affair one day later.
“They’re getting a groove,” Meador said. “It’s baseball. There’s days you go in, and you can’t hit. Then, there’s days you go out, and it looks like a beach ball (to hitters).”
In the final game, Lafayette scored two runs in the first inning before erupting for 13 runs in the second, resulting in a 15-0 lead.
Emerson McClard’s grand slam highlighted the second-inning outburst.
However, Westmoreland stormed back to tie the contest at 15.
Lafayette responded by scoring two runs in the top of the sixth, and Ben Perkins pitched a perfect bottom of the sixth, ending the game by inducing three groundouts.
“They are starting to understand more of the game,” Meador said. “They were being selective (at the plate). They have matured in the batter’s box as the games have gone on.”
- The Lafayette squad opened play in the state tournament — which is being played at the Maryville Little League complex — with Saturday morning’s 17-0 loss to Columbia.
Then, Lafayette was eliminated with a 6-3 loss to Morristown on Sunday afternoon.