Ahoskie Little League team wins district

Published 5:39 pm Thursday, July 16, 2009

WILLIAMSTON – They brought home the hardware.

Ahoskie’s Little League baseball team went to Williamston over the past 10 days and garnered four victories in five outings to secure the District 7 championship.

“It was really satisfying,” said coach Justin Freeman. “We feel like we’re the hardest working team in the state. Practices paid off. We got in 25 practices and it made a difference.”

The Ahoskie squad defeated Chocowinity, Edenton, Williamston and North Martin to secure the title and earn a bid to the state tournament, which will be held in Valdese from July 31 until August 2.

“We couldn’t be more proud of the way the kids fought back, especially after the loss,” Freeman said, speaking on behalf of himself, Jacob Harrell and Justin Burden. “They showed a lot of character. The kids worked hard and they deserved it.”

The tournament began July 7 with a 17-0 win over Chocowinity in the opening round of the District tourney. Bryan Merritt picked up the win for Ahoskie on the mound, throwing all four innings and striking out five.

Ahoskie got things started early, scoring seven runs in the first inning before adding six in the second and four in the third frame.

Ackerman Grace and Tyler Hoggard paced the Ahoskie Little League All-Stars. Grace was 3-for-3 with a homerun while Hoggard was 3-for-4 with a homer. Dylan Waterfield also had a perfect night, going 2-for-2 at the plate with a pair of singles.

During the contest, Hoggard, Grace, Merritt, Eric Ortiz and Ryan Weaver each hit a homerun to help Ahoskie cruise to the victory.

After defeating Chocowinity, the Ahoskie team set their sights on Edenton on Friday, July 10.

Again they started early, scoring seven runs in the first inning and cruising to a 14-1 victory over the Edenton All-Stars. Ahoskie added seven more runs in the third.

Tyler Hoggard was the catalyst both offensively and on the mound. While pitching, he went all four innings and struck out five. At the plate, Hoggard was 3-for-4 with a double.

Ryan Weaver and Dylan Waterfield each went 2-for-2 for the Ahoskie team and Bryan Merritt was 2-for-3 with a homerun and a double. Ackerman Grace added a homerun during the victory.

With the two easy victories behind them, Ahoskie then squared off with Williamston this past Sunday. After scoring three in the second inning to take the lead, Ahoskie added four more in the fourth to secure a 7-2 win.

Eric Ortiz was the winning pitcher and Jarrett Harrell came in and struck out the side in the sixth inning to preserve the victory.

Ackerman Grace was 1-for-1 in the game with a homerun while Ryan Weaver was 2-for-3 and had a double and a single. Brandon Terry checked in at 1-for-2 with a homerun.

The three wins put Ahoskie in the championship series where they faced the North Martin team. In the first game, North Martin secured an 8-4 win over Ahoskie to force a deciding game.

Ackerman Grace suffered the loss during the contest, but struck out eight in four innings of work on the mound.

Offensively, Tyler Hoggard led the way with a 2-for-4 performance that included a homerun and a single.

Making the championship series and then suffering a loss had happened before to the Ahoskie squad as they suffered the same fate in their own invitational tournament before bouncing back to win.

Freeman said he believed that experience helped them do the same thing in the District tournament.

“Absolutely it helped,” he said. “We got sent to the loser’s bracket in the championship game in our tournament and we had the exact same thing happen here. The kids knew what it was like to come back and get the win.”

The loss on Monday set the stage for a championship showdown Tuesday night in Williamston and Ahoskie was up to the challenge as they scored in every inning to take a 14-4 win.

The local squad surrendered three runs to North Martin in the top of the first inning, but rallied back to tie the game in the home half of the same inning. After North Martin took a 4-3 lead in the second, Ahoskie scored six times in the bottom of the second stanza and never looked back. They added four in the third and one in the fourth to secure the win.

Tyler Hoggard was again the winning pitcher, tossing four innings and striking out seven.

Offensively, Ryan Weaver led the way with a perfect 3-for-3 day at the plate that included a homerun and a double. Ackerman Grace was also perfect, going 2-for-2 with a pair of singles.

Hoggard helped his own cause by going 3-for-4 during the outing with two homeruns and a double.

Brandon Terry checked in at 1-for-2 with a homerun during the game and Eric Ortiz was 2-for-3 with a single and a double.

The Ahoskie team put together a fine offensive performance during the district tournament. As a team, Ahoskie banged out 64 hits in 123 at-bats.

Tyler Hoggard led Ahoskie by going 13-for-20 during the five games including four homeruns. Ackerman Grace was 8-for-11 while Jarrett Harrell and Ryan Weaver were each 8-for-12.

Dylan Waterfield put together a 7-for-11 performance while Brandon Terry was 6-for-13.

The Ahoskie team that will be headed to Valdese includes: Tyler Hoggard, Brandon Terry, Tyler Jones, Eric Ortiz, Ryan Weaver, Bryan Merritt, Ackerman Grace, Jarrett Harrell, Dylan Waterfield, Quincy Godwin, Devan Ivey and Tyler Pope.

“It’s the first time we’ve been in a long time,” Freeman said about the state tournament. “We want to represent Ahoskie well. We wouldn’t go if we didn’t have the intention of winning the whole thing.”

The squad will be doing fundraisers in the coming weeks to help offset the costs of the trip.