Juniata County 11s win District 13 title
LAURELTON — Daylyn Kennedy nearly went the distance on the mound as Juniata County defeated Central Columbia 5-1 to become the Little League District 13 Minor 11 baseball champion on Friday at West End Field of Dreams ballpark.
“It’s special these boys have been working hard since we got started with all-star practice,” Juniata County coach Aaron Geedey said. “And it’s good to see them play as hard as they’ve had. They put everything together for four straight games. They’re a great group of kids.”
Kennedy looked unhittable through the first four innings of the game, allowing only three hits. Central Columbia had just two good opportunities to put runs on the scoreboard — the bottom half of the third and fourth innings with a runner on third — but Kennedy managed to get out of the jam and leave the runners stranded.
Eventually the luck ran out as Central Columbia finally got a run in the bottom of the fifth as Nolan Beagle took advantage of an error at first and hustled his way to home plate. But that was as far as Central Columbia could get.
Kennedy started off the bottom of the sixth inning getting the first two outs of the frame. However, Kennedy was over his pitch limit was forced to hand the ball over to Ian Yetter, who got the final out to win the game.
In five and two-thirds innings, Kennedy had six strikeouts and walked only two.
“He was amazing, he was absolutely phenomenal,” Geedey said. “He was one batter away from a complete game, giving up one run. He was fantastic tonight, can’t say enough about his pitching.”
Juniata County had the need for speed on the base paths at the start of the game being very aggressive and scoring a run in the opening frame as Kennedy caught the Central Columbia defense napping and stole home when the Central Columbia catcher lackadaisically threw the ball back to the pitcher when Kennedy was on third, giving Juniata County a 1-0 lead.
“That’s how we play,” Geedey said. “We go as our base runners go that brings fire to our boys. They are good at base running. That’s what these boys do great.”
But the Juniata County offense really revved it up in the top of the third as Jasper Shepps got it going with a two-run double to right-center field, scoring both Drew Geedey and Kennedy. Shepps later scored on that same play as he was moving over to third and the catcher tried to throw him out, only to have the throw go wide, allowing Shepps to come in and score to extend the lead to 4-1.
Hayden Erhard kept it going with a shot to right and hustled all the way to third setting up Carson Nipple, who singled Erhard home.
Shepps, Erhard, Nipple and Geedey each had a hit in the game for Juniata County.
“Offensively, their pitcher I’ll give him all the credit in the world he threw a heck of a ball game,” Geedey said. “He held us to five runs which is a testament to him. Our boys just hung in there and put the bat on the ball and played great defense.”
Juniata County, which won four straight in the district bracket, travels to Athens, Pennsylvania, for the Section 3 tournament, which begins Friday. Geedey believes that if his team stays true to who it is, it will be a tough team to beat.
“Just keep doing what we’re doing,” Geedey said. “Good pitching, solid defense and hitting the ball that’s what we’re going to keep trying to do.”