AVON — There’s a simple reason Avon is headed to the 11U Little League baseball state tournament in Ironton — pitching, pitching and more pitching.
Ian Cain pitched five hitless innings to lift Avon to a 9-1 win over Cuyahoga Falls North in the District 3 championship game Wednesday night at Veterans Park.
Cain struck out 11 in the win while Dominic Singleton struck out the side and allowed just one walk in a scoreless sixth inning to preserve the no-hitter.
In three tournament games, Avon has outscored its opponents 31-2. Both the runs it allowed were unearned.
“All three of my starting pitchers have been extremely dominant,” Avon coach Tim Hughes said. “Ian brought it today. He put it right where it needed to be, right down the middle of the plate.”
Singleton and Matthew Maxey round out Avon’s starting rotation.
“It makes my job real easy,” Hughes said. “It’s not on me, it’s on these kids. They go out there, they take the ball and they do what they’re supposed to do. If they keep doing that we’re going to keep rolling along.”
Avon scored three runs in the top of the first. Maxey walked to open the game, but was erased when he overran second on Cain’s single.
Brendan Herns struck out but Connor Bingham laced an RBI single to center to open the scoring.
Gavin Hughes reached on a throwing error before Robby Sykora loaded the bases with a single.
Two more runs came in when Singleton reached on another throwing error.
Avon made it 5-0 in the top of the third when Bingham doubled and scored before Hughes walked and came around to score on Cuyahoga Falls’ third throwing error.
Cuyahoga Falls scored its run in the bottom of the third when Xavier Cochran reached on an error and came around to score on a passed ball.
Avon put the game away with single runs in the fourth and fifth and a pair of runs in the sixth.
Avon had nine hits, drew five walks and reached on a hit-by-pitch.
“Our bats really came alive the last two games,” Hughes said. “Everyone in our lineup got a hit today and everybody contributed to the win. Everybody really worked their tails of. They work hard at practice and bring it to the games.”
While the Avon bats were making noise, Cain was cruising. He walked five and saw a batter reach on an error, but he struck out two or more batters in every inning.
“I just wanted to throw strikes and strike people out,” Cain said. “I’ve been working on throwing strikes for the last year, pitching in the strike zone and throwing faster, and I was able to do that today.”
Center fielder Robby Sykora made a couple of nice defensive plays behind Cain, who said he knows his team has his back when he’s on the mound.
“I can relax a lot,” he said. “I trust them to make plays behind me and I know they’re going to hit the ball. I know they’re going to score runs. It was a good day today.
“I feel good about this and I’m really proud (to be going to state). Hopefully we can get some wins down there.”
Maxey had a hit and walked three times while Bingham had two hits and scored three runs to lead Avon’s offense.
The state tournament in Ironton begins July 28.
“We’ve got a group of great boys who bust their butts,” Hughes said. “They work really hard every day in practice and everyone kicked it into gear tonight.”