With the Little League World Series already canceled along with sectional and state tournaments in Florida, the 12-to-14 year-old Englewood and North Port All-Star teams had just one title to play for this season — a district championship.
In a typical year, these two teams would battle it out with Venice and another North Port team in a round-robin style format, but with just two teams remaining all that stood in the way of winning District 16 was a best-of-three series.
Following a tight pitcher’s duel on Tuesday evening that saw the Englewood Elks hold on for a 2-1 win, Englewood came through again in the second game on Thursday night, winning 12-4 to claim the 2020 District 16 championship at Englewood Sports Complex.
There currently are no more All-Star tournaments scheduled for the year, although District administrator Tim Donohue said there are rumblings of a potential state tournament being held later this fall.
“We aren’t having sectionals because we didn’t want to travel,” Donohue said of the limited All-Star tournament. “They might do a state tournament in the fall because some leagues in the state decided to move their spring season to the fall season.
“They haven’t decided not to do it. I don’t think it will happen, though. If you have teams that will advance you’ll have to make sure your kids are ready to play.”
Though North Port opened the scoring in the first to take a 1-0 lead, the Elks soon answered, scoring on a walk by Bradyn Wise. Again in the second, errant pitching allowed some more runs home for Englewood — this time in the form of a wild pitch, a walk and a groundout that brought the score to 5-1.
Englewood put the game away for good in the sixth.
Nick Moon, Hunter Cromer, Jaxon Brown and Wise all knocked in runs that inning to bring home five more runs and stretch Englewood’s lead.
Bryson Vaughn earned the win for Englewood on the mound. He allowed one run on one hit and walked one. Drew Smith and Devyn Kirsten entered the game out of the bullpen and helped to close out the game in relief.
Devon Jackson started the game for North Port. He went 1 2/3 innings, allowing five runs on three hits. Mason Allen took the loss for North Port. He went 4 1/3 innings, allowing seven runs on eight hits.
While North Port struggled to get its bats going, Jacob Lombard and Bradyn Williams each came through with multiple-hit nights. Lombard led the team with four hits in five at-bats and three stolen bases.
Cromer and Wise each collected multiple hits for Englewood as Cromer went 3-for-5 at the plate to help lead his squad to victory.
“We were just happy to be out here,” Elks manager Sean Kirsten said. “A lot of leagues didn’t even open back up at all, so anything we get to do out here is a plus for us.”