The road to a tournament championship gets a lot harder once a team is sent into the loser’s bracket, yet Winchester’s 7- and 8-year old Coach-Pitch All-Star team made it look as easy as elementary school.
After suffering a loss to Estill Springs in the semi-final, Winchester wrestled back overpowering Huntland 16-0, then reeking revenge against Estill Springs through two games to claim the district championship.
Upon defeating Huntland on Monday night, Winchester received a break before taking on the team that had handed it its previous loss, Estill Springs, later in the night.
Winchester’s hitting prowess carried over from its big win earlier in the night over Huntland, leading to a 14-8 victory over Estill Springs.
However, a big win wasn’t always a reality early in the contest.
Winchester batted first driving in three runs. Mason Moore was the first to cross home plate, followed by Payton Miller and Andrew Fulmer.
Down 3-0, Estill Springs went off in its first at bat, scoring the inning maximum five runs. After the lead off batter batted into an out, in order C.J. Seals, Brody Mathis, Jacob Hardison, A.J. Seals and Landon Kerr all scored runs. Wylon Watson was credited with the last RBI of the inning.
Trailing 5-3, Winchester didn’t answer strongly in the top of the second, scoring just one run. Cason Eslick scored the run, batted in by Trace Kilpatrick, to make the score Estill Springs 5, Winchester 4.
With a golden opportunity to extend its lead, Estill Springs hit a wall in the form of Winchester’s stout defense.
In the top of the third inning Winchester regained the lead, plating four runs to make the score 8-5. Moore, Miller, and Fulmer each scored their second runs of the game, and Shaimar Lyons scored his first, Winchester’s fourth of the inning.
Estill Springs gained a little bit of its batting back in the bottom of the third inning, scoring two runs from the help of C.J. Seals and Mathis.
Leading by just one run, 8-7, Winchester made its fans bite their nails a little bit in the top of the fourth inning, going scoreless.
Robert Clayton tied things up for Estill Springs in the bottom of the fourth, 8-8, batting Watson in.
Unfortunately for Estill Springs, its tying run would be its last.
Winchester rebounded offensively in the top of the fifth inning with five runs. Miller and Fulmer both crossed home plate for their third time on the night in as many at-bats. DaShuan Reynolds, Lyons and Braden Henley each accounted for a score.
After holding Estill Springs scoreless in the bottom of the fifth inning, Winchester needed just one run to end the game.
With one out, Kilpatrick hit a double to get on second base. Jack Santi stepped up to the plate as the last listed batter in the order, and with no hesitationm, ripped a ball into deep right field allowing Kilpatrick to cross home plate as the winning run.
As exciting as it was for Winchester, things weren’t over just yet.
The loss was Estill Springs’ first, meaning that it would receive another shot at the District 8 title.
Both teams met for the third and final time on Tuesday night, with the championship, and a trip to the State Tournament on the line.
Almost mimicking the previous night’s game, not much from the storyline seemed to change, except this time Winchester never trailed.
Chase Towry, Jackson Lynch and Miller got Winchester started offensively. Towry and Lynch would go on to each score three runs after going scoreless in the previous nights game.
Facing a 3-0 deficit just as the previous night in the bottom of the first inning, Estill Springs answered with just one run courtesy of Mathis with C.J. Seals credited with the RBI.
Despite scoring just one run, Estill Springs responded with a stonewall defensive attack in the top of the second inning, holding Winchester scoreless.
However, Winchester returned the favor right back, not allowing Estill Springs a single run in the bottom of the second inning.
In the top of the third, Winchester began to pull away, improving its lead to 7-1 with a four-run inning. Towry, Lynch, Moore and Santi were all part of the scoring barrage.
Copy and paste Winchester’s offensive output to Estill Springs in the bottom of the third.
Estill Springs scored four runs, Mathis, C.J. Seals, Daylin Sears, and Landon Presley each accounted for a run.
With the score now 7-5, Winchester went scoreless in the fourth inning while Estill Springs scored another run to make it 7-6, heading into the fifth inning.
Unfotunately, history repeated itself for Estill Springs. The single run in the fourth inning was the team’s last of the game.
Winchester scored four more runs in the top of the fifth before holding Estill Springs scoreless in the bottom half of the inning.
If things didn’t seem so familiar already, the sixth inning sealed the deal.
Leading by five runs, 11-6, heading into the top of the sixth inning, Winchester again needed just one run to end the game.
Eslick led of the inning with a hit advancing to second base, and next up to bat was the game’s final run from the previous night, Kilpatrick.
With one swing of the bat Kilpatrick received the game winning RBI as Eslick crossed home plate.
The title was Winchester’s first in the 7- and 8-year old age group since 1988.