For the third time in three games in the Tar Heel Leagues District V Little League championship tournament, South Johnston hit double-figures in runs Sunday afternoon in the finals.
Against North Johnston, all the runs South needed (and more) came in the third inning alone as South Johnston claimed the title after an 11-0 victory.
In the pivotal frame, South Johnston sent 15 batters to the plate to score the 11 runs. One of those batters was Jimmy Hines and the slugger came through with two homeruns in the inning, first a solo shot and then one of the two-run variety to help pave the way to the championship.
“We are a very dominant team when we can hit,” said South Johnston coach Chris Carroll. “We fill in with our gloves and play good defense but our strong suit is at the plate.”
South Johnston ended its three-game march to the title outscoring its opponents 38-12.
In the third, Chase Carroll launched a three-run homer as well. M.J. Jacobs and Parker Wood each added a two-run single to help break the game wide open.
Wood held North Johnston in check as well on the pitcher’s mound as he struck out seven batters in his four innings of work.
North Johnston’s best chance at putting a run on the scoreboard came in the second inning after Logan Rachels led off with a single and Weston Evans reached base on an error. Wood followed that up with a strikeout, however, for the first out of the inning before coaxing a 6-4-3 double play ball to get out of the jam.
“This district is a tough district and we knew coming in that we were going to face South and it was going to be a struggle to get through South to get out to the state tournament,” North Johnston coach Chris Williams said. “But the kids splayed really well, they worked really hard and I cannot be more proud of this group.”
Despite the strong showing, Carroll knows there’s work to be done before the team represents the district at the state tournament in Boone.
“There’s always room for improvement,” said Carroll. “We’ve got our work cut out for us but we’ve got a fairly solid team. We’ve just got to work hard until we leave and try to put on a good showing while we’re there.”
As for North Johnston, even though his team fell short in the finals after besting Cleveland to earn a spot in the championship, Williams has no regrets.
“We went against a tough team but I was really glad to see (where we ended) from when we started in the Invitational tournament and then came together here,” Williams said. “These kids are like my family and it just means so much to me to watch them play as a team and hold their heads high when they leave here because they gave everything they had and as coaches we can’t ask for any more than that.”