The West Holmes Knights U12 traveling baseball team’s got-your-back attitude came into play when faced with adversity in the Chippewa Baseball Invitational Tournament July 13 in Doylestown.
In the bottom of the fifth of the weekend’s championship game against Ragersville the Knights allowed three runs, the same amount of runs they allowed total in the three previous games of the tournament, letting Ragersville tie the game at seven runs a piece.
They’re answer? The Knights’ Peyton McKinney led off the sixth and launched his first home run of the season for West Holmes to give his team back to the lead 8-7. McKinney was the first batter of the inning after the Knights surrendered a 7-4 lead.
West Holmes went on to send 13 batters to the plate after McKinney’s blast and scored seven runs in the top of the sixth to regain the lead and win the championship 14-7. West Holmes’ Luke Vess pitched the bottom of the sixth and got Ragersville out with a pair of strikeouts and a come-backer to the mound to end it.
“That home run was a huge mental boost for us,” said West Holmes coach Dan Burgett. “He’s (McKinney) usually not a pull hitter, but he turned on it and away she went. It was a big pick-me-up for the whole team.”
Burgett credited the quick bounce back from a tough inning to his team’s mantra they have been living by all year.
“Our motto all season long has been G.Y.B.,” said Burgett. “That stands for Got Your Back. We stress to our players that things are not always going to go right, but you have to have each others backs. We did a good job of getting our heads back on after that inning.”
West Holmes got the 7-4 lead by scoring a run in the second, five in the fourth and one more in the fifth. Like McKinney, Bradey Miller provided some power in the fourth frame with a grand slam. In the semi-final game Miller also homered with a two-run walk-off tater in a 10-0 run-rule win over the host Chippewa.
“We hit well all weekend,”said Burgett. “We haven’t played for awhile prior to this tournament and Thursday we looked a little rusty. We shook the rust off and really fed off each other.”
Ragersville scored four first inning runs to go with its three they plated in the fifth. The first inning was a bit of a surprise to the West Holmes faithful who had watched their team outscore the competition 36-3 in the tournament’s previous three games.
“After we finally got out of the first inning and the boys came to the dugout, I just had them gather around and I told them that I wasn’t the least bit nervous,” said Burgett. “We knew what they were capable of, they just needed to relax and play ball.”
“They came out in the first inning and jumped on us. Those four runs for them in the first inning rocked us on our heels a bit. When we issued walk, they made us pay.”
In the title game McKinney also picked up the win on the hill, pitching the second through fifth innings striking out six and issuing three walks.
Miller finished with just the one hit and four RBI, but walked twice, scored a pair of runs and stole a base. Blake Morrison, McKinney and Joshua Shrock all had hits. Addison Yates and Payton Miller had two hits a piece. Payton Miller scored three runs for the champs in the championship win.
West Holmes got to the title game by beating Chippewa on Thursday night July, 9 10-2 and then crushing Wadsworth 16-1 on Saturday, July 11 in pool play. The Knights then beat Chippewa again 10-0 in the semi-final Sunday morning to setup the date with Ragersville in the championship game on Sunday night. A potent offense full of bats, the Knights out-scored the competition 50-10 in four games.
Sponsors for the U12 Knights include; Holmesville Legion, Millersburg Legion, Mac Oil, Chuck Nicholson’s Auto Store, Troy Miller Agency, Holmesville Electric and Buckeye Deli.