Smithfield: Sports

Garner sets tone early, rides pitching to title

North Johnston first baseman Gabe Strickland (12) stretches to make the play on Garner  base runner Colby Bloom (13).
North Johnston first baseman Gabe Strickland (12) stretches to make the play on Garner base runner Colby Bloom (13). newsobserver.com

Garner completed a dominant performance in the Southern Johnston Baseball Association Invitational Midget (ages 9-10) division Monday night with an 11-1 victory over SJBA North in the championship game.

North’s run, a Gabe Strickland RBI double in the third inning was the only run surrendered by Garner pitching in the four games of the tournament that saw Garner outscore opponents by a combined 55-1.

David Cass took the mound in the title game and allowed just the one run on four hits in four innings to keep Garner rolling, something it started doing from the outset of the tournament.

“The way we rolled in this tournament was pitching,” said Garner coach Richard Clement. “That’s the name of the game in baseball.

“Our pitching and timely hitting is how we won this tournament.”

Will Lee got things going for Garner in the first inning with a two-run homerun.

Cass followed Lee’s blast with a single that plated two more runs and a two-run scoring double from Tyler Reyes put Garner up 6-0 after one.

Garner tacked on three more runs in the third and ended the game early in the fourth when Will Lee’s double brought home Colton Tew for the ten-run lead and mercy rule decision.

Strickland totaled two hits for the game to lead SJBA North. Lane McLean and Avery Pearce recorded the other hits off of Cass.

Seth Coats turned in a memorable defensive gem in the second as he made a diving catch over his head to deny Jackson West an extra base hit.

Despite the solid defensive play and determination displayed from SJBA North, they just could not match Garner hit-for-hit when it absolutely needed to do so as they stranded six runners in the four innings.

“We’re not supposed to play with a team like that right there but we can, we just didn’t hit with them,” SJBA North coach Junior Pearce said of his young team made up mostly of nine-year olds and a pair of eight-year olds.

“It means a lot to make it to the championship game; they’re a great group of guys.”

Colton Tew led Garner with three hits to compliment Lee’s big night.

Cass helped his own cause with a pair of singles while Daniel Johnson and Josh Tew collected the other Garner hits.

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