West Holmes

Eastep walks off with u12 WHYB title

Titles are special.

Comeback championships are even better.

Walk-off wins in the final game of the season that earn the gold… those are legendary.

Team Eastep was legendary thanks to a dash for home.

Trailing 4-3 in the bottom of the sixth and final inning of the championship game, the number one seed in West Holmes Youth Baseball’s 12U tournament, Team Eastep, needed two runs to secure a comeback win and the tournament title.

To lead of the bottom of the sixth for Team Eastep, Rudy Hershberger delivered the hit of the game smashing a solo home run to center that kicked off the top of the wall and then dropped over tying the game at 4-4.

After Hershberger’s round tripper, Eastep’s Blake Norman then singled putting the winning run on base. After two strikeouts, a walk and an infield single from Bryce Wengerd, Eastep loaded the bases for Garrett Aurand with the winning run in Norman now standing at third base.

On a passed ball with Aurand at the dish, Norman displayed his crazy-fast quickness and scampered home with the winning run and Eastep took home the title 5-4.

“It felt amazing,” said Hershberger about his home run as he clung to his trophy and the game ball from his coach.
In the first inning Hershberger also smoked a ball to the fence that would have left the park had Miller’s center fielder Kasey Weber not had snagged it.

“Rudy’s hit the ball all year,” said Team Eastep coach Rader Eastep. “I expected him to do something big.”

Early on Team Miller took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first on an RBI fielder’s choice ground out from the lefty, Dillon Miller. Eastep struck right back with two runs of their own in the bottom of the first on Garrett Eastep’s RBI double and a run-scoring single from Hunter Ellis that stole the lead right back 2-1.

The three seed, Team Miller wasn’t going anywhere. In the top of the second they tied it right back up on an RBI single from Kaden McDougle that scored Camden Doty.

Miller would go on to take a 4-2 lead in the top of the fourth as Dylan Strouse scored on a hit from Logan Barlow and then Brayden Miller scored on a error when Dillon Miller put the ball in play.

Eastep got it one run closer at 4-3 in the bottom of the fourth when Garrett Eastep roped a ball all the way to the wall that he would score on for an inside-the-park home run.

Both teams went quickly and quietly in the fifth inning setting up the heroics from team Eastep in the sixth.

While Hergberger’s tater in the bottom of the sixth was a massive play, so was the defensive play that Team Eastep came up with in the top of the sixth.

With the bases loaded, Miller’s Dillon Miller ripped a shot down the line that looked like it would score all three runs. However, due to some nifty defensive positioning by the Eastep coaching staff, right fielder Jayden Mullet pounced on the liner, gloved it and hit his cut-off Beau Norman with a perfect throw. Norman quickly turned and fired a pea to the catcher Ellis who applied the tag to the runner tagging up from third for an inning-ending double play. (video)

“I expect our guys to make those plays,” said Coach Eastep about Mullet’s catch and relay. “At this age, more balls get hit to right field so we needed a good fielder there and he made a good play.”

Eastep was the best team in WHYB’s 12U division all year long as they cruised into the tournament with a 13-3 record and then finished off the good campaign with some trophy time.

“We pitched our two best pitchers three innings a piece and I planned on ending this right away,” said Coach Eastep. “I didn’t want to give them the momentum going into a second game, I wanted it done.”

Team Miller got to the title game by wining the loser’s bracket final on Monday, June 27 with a 9-7 win over Team Yoder. So in this case in order for Team Miller to win the title, they needed to beat Team Eastep twice on Tuesday night.

Dylan Strouse led Team Miller at the plate with a 2-for-2 night with two singles, a HBP, a walk and two runs scored. He also made a run-saving play at second base after a bleeder found the outfield and he turned and fired a runner out at home.

Garrett Eastep led Team Eastep with a double, a home run and two runs driven in.

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