ELYRIA — It was a game that could have decided a district title for 9- and 10-year-old Little League softball players.
What it really did was create a rubber match in Avon today at 6 p.m. that will produce the district champion, with a berth in the state tournament in Clyde at stake.
The Avon girls, facing elimination with a potential second straight loss to Elyria, put themselves in charge of the district tourney with a 15-11 victory Wednesday night at Vic Janowicz Memorial Park.
They can win it on their home turf at Avon’s Veterans Memorial Park.
Elyria led 2-1 after two innings, but that was the high-water mark. Avon scored four runs in the third inning and eight in the fourth as a dozen batters went to the plate.
By then, the game seemed to be out of reach.
The Elyrians, however, would not roll over.
The East Little Leaguers bounced back with four runs in the fifth inning and actually threatened to catch up with three more in the fifth.
In fact, Elyria was threatening with runners at first and second when the game ended in the sixth.
It was a classic case of too little too late for Elyria.
“The positives tonight were after that bad (fourth) inning, everyone was like, ‘Man, we’re losing by nine or something,’ but it was good to see them come back,” Elyria manager Scott Barnes said.
His counterpart, Avon’s John Weigman, liked the difference between Wednesday’s game and Saturday’s, when Elyria put up a 14-8 victory on the same diamond.
Fighting to avoid elimination Tuesday, Avon defeated Tallmadge, 11-4.
“Our girls came out very focused,” Weigman said. “Saturday night was our first game in the tournament and this was our third game. A little bit of experience has helped out a lot and we look forward to the game (tonight). We’re back to Avon. They have to come to our place and we’re going to do our best … bring our best pitching.”
Avon’s Jessica Novak was 1-for-2, but scored three times, including once in the third as her team took a 5-2 lead.
The big blow, however, was Grace Espey’s three-run, bases-clearing double in the third that sent Novak, Marissa Ptacek and Jessie Dean across the plate and set the tone for what could have been Avon’s swan song.
Espey was 2-for-3 and scored three times. She was retired only once — on a hard shot to the circle in her final at-bat in the fifth — and produced a game-high three RBIs.
“This was good because I worked hard to get here and so did our whole team,” Espey said. “Our defense was strong and we work a lot on defense.”
Kaitlyn Huff and Alyssa McLellon also had two hits for Avon.
Elyria cut the deficit in the fifth as Adrian Petrisko, Emma Barnes, Madison Huge and Amanda Demyan scored. And the Elyrians threatened to catch up with three more in the sixth, with Barnes, Huge and Grace Sherban crossing the plate.
Contact Bob Daniels at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.