ENGLEWOOD — The Eaton Little League Junior All-Stars took home the District 8 championship after a back-and-forth battle with the First Dayton Little League Junior All-Stars at Centennial Field in Englewood on Wednesday, July, 15.
Eaton scored in the top of the seventh as Cole Bulach scored from third on a wild pitch to give Eaton a 5-4 lead heading into the bottom of the final inning.
Josh Kropelin took to the mound getting ground outs to Jordan Turner at shortstop, himself, and Peyton Sutton at third base, to pick up the victory to send the team to the state tournament.
In a game dominated by strikeouts and walks, Eaton’s ability to stay focused and make plays on three hard hit ground balls in the last inning was key and something head coach Jim Turner credited to the team’s practice habits.
“They practice hard and it pays off in the games, I mean this kids are hard-nosed, they play good fundamental baseball and that’s where it’s at,” Turner said.
Kropelin may have gotten the win, but it was Sutton who pitched the first five innings, unofficially striking out seven and only giving up three runs. Turner gave both of his pitchers a lot of credit after the game. “Our pitching was key, our pitching carried us through, Peyton Sutton pitched a great game, we pitched him out and he held them down. Josh Kropelin came in and got the win, so it was great.”
Eaton got on the board first in the second inning when Ryan Venable singled and reached third after a passed ball, setting up Nick Imhoff who singled home Venable to give Eaton a 1-0 lead. However, Dayton responded in the bottom of the inning tying the game 1-1.
In the fourth, Turner scored on a Kropelin sacrifice fly to put Eaton back up 2-1. Dayton scored twice in the bottom of the inning, putting Eaton down 3-2 heading into the fifth.
In the fifth, Sutton was able to get out of a bases loaded jam with his third strike out of the inning, keeping Eaton in striking distance of Dayton.
They took the advantage in the next inning.
Tucker Wilt scored, tying the game at three. Sutton then put himself in position to pick up the win when he singled home Turner, giving Eaton a 4-3 lead going into the bottom of the sixth.
Sutton, however, had reached his pitched limit and Kropelin came into the game as Dayton was able to tie the score, setting the stage for a thrilling final inning that saw Eaton plate the winning run and hold on for the win.
The win allowed the team to move onto the State Tournament hosted in Oxford.
Also on the team was Tyler Early, Hunter Lindsey, Christian Michael, Brandon Miller, Caleb Puckett and Logan Rose.