AVON — Yogi Berra used to say, “It ain’t over ’til it’s over.”
Avon’s 10U Little League All-Stars may not know who Yogi was but they certainly used the philosophy in staying in the winners bracket of the district tournament Monday night with a come-from-behind 10-9 win over Cuyahoga Falls North.
Avon will play Wednesday at Cuyahoga Falls South, but has time to take a deep breath after the thriller.
Down 6-2 after four innings of a six-inning game, Avon simply went to work offensively knowing its defense would eventually make the difference.
“I may have went through a couple antacids or something,” Avon coach Phil Pintar said. “That was a fun game. That is the beauty in Little League. This is where you start learning to not give up, to try, that you’re going to fail. At the same time, it makes success even sweeter.”
The sweet part came in the top of the fifth inning when Avon scored seven times by sending 13 batters to the plate to take the lead, 9-6. The sour was the bottom of the inning, when Cuyahoga Falls tied it.
Finally, Ben Shaffner’s sacrifice fly to right field scored Evan Masuga with the winner in the top of the sixth. The run held up, as a great play on a sinking liner at third base by Landon McQuality kept the lead intact.
Winning pitcher Troy Louth struck out the other two hitters in a 1-2-3 bottom of the sixth.
Pintar handed game balls to Louth and McQuality and could’ve given out a few more. Great defensive plays were turned in by Masuga at shortstop and Damien Rodriguez and Blake Elder in the outfield.
“Basically, that’s where all our practices were,” Pintar said. “Defense, defense, defense. We knew to compete at this level everyone can hit. They’ll be some pitchers that you can’t hit, but the teams that can field and know what to do with the ball will probably succeed more often than not.”
Offensive stars included Elder, Masuga, Grant Barr, Carter Jenny, Drew Sidloski and, of course, Shaffner.
Elder and Louth surrendered 13 hits between them but buckled down just when Falls appeared ready to blow open the game. They combined to strike out five and walk three.
“Throw strikes, play defense and get outs,” Pintar said. “And then score.”