District 11 Area 1 Little League All-Star Tournament

Auburn 9/10s unravel

Tri-City All-Stars send 18 batters to the plate, tag Auburn for 13 runs in fifth inning
By: Eric J. Gourley, Journal Sports Writer
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A close game quickly turned into a nightmare for Auburn Little League’s 9/10 All-Stars at the District 11 Area 1 tournament Tuesday night. A heavy-hitting Tri-City squad sent 18 batters to the plate in a crushing fifth inning to beat Auburn 17-1 via the mercy rule at Beggs Field. Ryan Jenkins kept Auburn in the game through four innings. Trailing 4-1, he induced a Tri-City flyout to open the top of the fifth but walked the next batter and was relieved on the mound by Travis Taylor. “He was just out of pitches,” Auburn manager Steve Robison said of Jenkins. Taylor surrendered a single on his first pitch and walked the next batter, his last. Hugh Hanson took the hill and threw only one of his nine pitches for a strike, walking in a run. Brian Stangland didn’t have much better luck, allowing a pair of two-run doubles. When Auburn’s fifth pitcher, Shane Betts took over, Tri-City led 14-1. “We were trying to get outs and get out of that inning,” Robison said. “We were trying to stay in the game and then the inning just got away from us. At that point, we were trying to keep guys alive for (Wednesday) night, so we were trying to balance who can we burn and who we keep alive. Once it got away from us we figured we were just going to keep as many guys alive as we can because we’re not going to get back in this one.” As Tri-City’s Scott Randall took the mound to get the last out in relief of Jason Schafer, Auburn players were still standing in the dugout and cheering for a rally. “It’s a good group,” Robison said. “They don’t get down. The kids have great attitudes and a lot of heart. It’s fun to coach them.” Schafer was dominant. He walked four and allowed three hits — all singles — on 78 pitches. He struck out the side in the fourth and added another strikeout in the fifth. Auburn loaded the bases to open the second inning but scored only once on Betts’ single before Schafer pitched out of the jam. “He threw a great game,” Robison said. “As long as he was still in the game, we weren’t going to catch him.” Tri-City, which has scored 37 runs in two tournament games, will play the winner of tonight’s game between Auburn and Lincoln on Thursday night. If Tri-City wins that game, the team will advance to play the winner of the Area 2 Tournament. A loss would force a decisive area championship game on Friday night.