CUYAHOGA FALLS — The 11U Avon Little League All-Stars drove 50 miles to try to save their season Thursday night, but when they arrived in Cuyahoga Falls they walked their way to a win.
Avon drew 15 walks off five different Cuyahoga Falls North pitchers in an 11-5 win at Wyoga Lake Park.
With the win, Avon, which had to work its way through the losers bracket after losing to the same Cuyahoga Falls North team earlier in the tournament, will host the District 3 championship game tonight at Veterans Memorial Park in Avon.
“We knew if we lost we were done and we wanted the chance to play at least one more game,” Avon’s Brendan Patterson said.
Patterson, who started the game at shortstop before coming into pitch in the fourth inning, went 2-for-4 with a triple, two RBIs and two runs scored. On the mound, he scattered five hits and allowed only two runs pitching in a non-save situation.
“I actually like being the starting pitcher a little better, but it was good because we had the lead when I came in,” Patterson said.
Avon had built an 8-3 lead after three innings thanks mostly to the generosity of the Cuyahoga Falls pitchers. Five of the first eight Avon batters that scored reached base after either a walk or getting hit by a pitch.
“I wasn’t telling the kids to take. We have some smart hitters on this team. They didn’t like the pitches they were seeing so they were taking,” Avon manager George Berki said. “When they did swing the bats, they were making good contact. It’s the best hitting game we’ve had so far.”
No one on the Avon side put on a better display of hitting then Nick Gardner. In the fifth inning, Gardner crushed a pitch from Cuyahoga Falls pitcher Mason Stams that cleared the 200-foot fence in left-center field by at least 50 feet.
It was Gardner’s first career over-the-fence home run.
“It was pretty special and I had fun doing it. I’m just glad I could score us another run,” Gardner said. “I didn’t care about hitting a home run when I came up to bat, I just wanted to get on base and support my team.”
Stams, the son of former Cleveland Browns linebacker Frank Stams, led the Cuyahoga Falls offensive going 3-for-3 with an RBI.
Seven of Cuyahoga Falls’ 10 hits came from the first three hitters in its lineup.
Both teams could be going into tonight’s game short-handed.
Cuyahoga Falls went deep into its pitching staff in Thursday’s loss and Avon had one player, Karl Wearsch, leave the game after getting hit in the head by a pitch in the fourth inning. Avon also had a player ejected for tossing his helmet in the dugout after being called out on strikes in the sixth inning.
“You’re always trying to keep track of the pitch counts in Little League and how many more you can go, but we’ve got the whole corral ready for tomorrow,” Berki said. “I’m really happy with how we played tonight. I know they’ll have a couple pitchers to throw at us tomorrow, but I’m confident our boys will be ready.”
It will be Avon’s first home game in the U11 district tournament.
Contact Todd Shapiro at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.