The hits keep coming

Wilson rallies to win Little League District 6 tournament 10-7

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After pitcher Noah Joyner saw a hanging curve ball leave the confines of Southern Bank Stadium in the fifth inning Wednesday night, he didn’t waste time by hanging his head.

Instead, the right-hander returned to the plate and promptly repaid the favor to Bull City.

Joyner’s two-run home run in the top of the sixth inning put the Wilson City Little League All-Stars ahead to stay, and Demari Daniels locked up the North Carolina Little League District 6 title by striking out the final batter in a back-and-forth 10-7 Wilson victory.

As a result, Wilson advances to the NCLL state tournament, to be held in Morganton beginning July 21.

“He really showed some poise in this game,” Wilson head coach Jeremy Mercer said of Joyner. “Then the other game that he pitched, we kind of faced some adversity. So I think him and the whole team battled back after adversity. I was real proud of them for that. That’s to be commended, for sure.

Trailing 4-0 after three complete innings, the Wilson defense had committed three errors and witnessed five hits go for naught by leaving five runners in scoring position.

But as has been the case in district competition, the offense kept producing with 13 hits. And in the fifth inning, all five Wilson runners that reached base came around to score.

The five-run fourth was sparked by the reserves. After Walker Guthrie’s single and a Cason Price double, Luke Dilda entered the game and put Wilson, serving as the visitors, on the scoreboard with his single up the middle. Alen Torres laced a run-scoring single, and a two-RBI base hit by Jayden Matthews up the middle tied it up.

An error on a ball off the bat of Jason Mercer at third base plated Matthews, and Wilson led for the first time at 5-4.

“They swing the bats very well,” Jeremy Mercer said of his team. “We’ve gotten double-digit hits in every game that we’ve played I believe, so they’ve really been aggressive at the plate and selected good pitches.”

Daniels did more than end the game with his arm. In the top of the fifth, he belted a lead-off home run to left center to extend Wilson’s new-found lead to 6-4. A three-run cushion was realized after Price walked and scored on Blake Reason’s single into right field.

Yet Bull City sent one final surge at Joyner, the pitcher, in the fifth. A Brandon Garcia single and a Seth Lumpkin walk preceded a no-doubt, three-run homer by Landon Odell to center-field. Just like that, Wilson witnessed its lead dissipate.

“It did not feel good,” Joyner admitted.

However, Joyner’s feelings quickly flipped in an 180-degree direction.

He allowed no further damage after the fifth-inning homer and trotted to the plate in the sixth to face Odell, who had entered for Bull City in relief.

Payback was quickly at hand.

Joyner’s homer bounced off the top of the fence in left field before settling on the berm, putting Wilson up 9-7.

“I was thinking hard base hit,” Joyner said.

Price, who finished with three hits, drove in Kirby for an insurance run later in the sixth to account for the final margin.

Anxious moments did arrive for Wilson in the bottom of the sixth. Joyner, approaching his 85-pitch limit, got the first batter to pop-up at pitch No. 84, making him eligible to face one more batter. He departed after recording a strikeout, leaving Wilson one out away as Kirby entered to close.

But Kirby struggled with his command, issuing a walk and a hit batsman to load the bases. Bull City brought the winning run to the plate in Lumpkin as Coach Mercer made the move to Daniels.

Getting Lumpkin to a 1-2 count with the Wilson partisans cheering him on, Daniels unleashed a curve ball that seemed like it remained in the air for hours.

Lumpkin offered no swing. The home-plate umpire gave the strikeout signal, giving Wilson the go-ahead to celebrate.

“I’m thinking that I want to end this game quick,” Daniels said upon getting the ball. “You know, strike him out.”

Joyner picked up the win, striking out seven and walking two in 5 2/3 innings of work. Bull City generated just five hits, one being a two-run homer from Jackson Glenn in the second.

“I knew the hitter would swing at just about anything,” Jeremy Mercer said of the final Bull City batter. “(Daniels) has commanded his change-up, and he does well in the big games. He didn’t look like he was nervous at all. Matter of fact, he’s got the big smile out there the whole time. He’s a great kid.”

The District 6 champs are also represented by Drew Wells, Luke Dilda, Jackson Barnes, Austin Wooten and J.D. Graziani.

jlewis@wilsontimes.com | 265-7807 | Twitter: @JimmyLewisWT

Score by innings:


Bull City022030—7

WP-Noah Joyner 5 2/3 IP, 5 H, 7 R, 7 ER, 2 BB, 7 SO. LP-Landon Odell 1 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 1 SO. S-Demari Daniels 1/3 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 SO.

LEADING HITTERS — Wilson: Cason Price 3-3, 2B, RBI, 2 R; Alen Torres 2-4, RBI, R; Noah Joyner 2-4, HR, 2 RBI, R; Demari Daniels 2-3, HR, RBI, 2 R; Bull City: Brandon Garcia 2-3, 2 R, Landon Odell 1-2, HR, 4 RBI, R;Jackson Glenn 1-2, HR, RBI, R.