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Victory Run: Russell-Flatwoods 9 to 11 All-Stars Swept District 6 Little League Title

Victory Run: Russell-Flatwoods 9 to 11 All-Stars Swept District 6 Little League Title

By: Sasha Bush

The Ashland Beacon

The Russell-Flatwoods Little League 9-11 All-Stars opened the Kentucky District 6 Tournament with a 5-0 win over Fleming County. Russell’s Mason Craft struck out 13 batters and gave up two hits, no runs, and walked two across five innings.

   On Monday, July 1, Russell’s All-Stars breezed past Morehead’s 9-11 All-Stars with a 10-0 win. Russell scored the only runs it needed in the bottom of the first inning after Briar Kennard singled and Isaac Lewis hit into a fielder’s choice, each knocking in a run. Colton Vanover earned the win for Russell-Flatwoods allowing no hits or runs over three innings while striking out three and walking only one.

Wednesday’s championship game came down to a rematch against Morehead. For the first four innings it was anybody’s game. Russell got on the board early in the first inning when Briar Kennard’s triple scored two runs and Isaac Lewis’ ground out scored a run.

   Morehead tied the game at three in the bottom of the first inning. Russell retook the lead 4-3 in the top of the second only to see Morehead score three times for a 7-4 lead after two.

Russell would score three in the top of the third on a triple by Sawyer Merrill, a single by Briar Kennard, and a single by Max Varju to tie the game at 7-7.

Russell’s 9-11 All-Stars scored 10 runs in the fifth inning to break the game wide open. Briar Kennard knocked in a run with a single, Colton Vanover’s single scored two runs, Isaac Lewis’ ground out scored a run, Max Varju, Conner Trippett and Silas Hutchinson each had RBI singles. Mason Craft knocked in three runs with a double.

   Sawyer Merrill retired the side in the bottom of the fifth to earn the win for the Russell 9-11 All-Stars. The powerhouse right-handed pitcher allowed only five hits and four runs (two of which were earned) over five innings, striking out six and walking one. Russell claimed the Kentucky District 6 Little League Championship title with a 17-7 win over Morehead.

Russell's Coach Nick Lewis shared, “I can’t say enough about how well our kids pitched. Whether it was Mason Craft, Colt Vanover, Briar Kennard, or Sawyer Merrill, they all did a great job. Overall, I was just really proud of our kids and the way they played. In the last game against a great Morehead team, we faced a lot of adversity as we found ourselves down by 3 runs after 2 innings. We talk about adversity often and fighting through situations where it doesn’t seem to be going your way, so I was proud of the way they responded and essentially took the game over.”

The Russell 9-11 All-Stars team was the only local baseball team to bring home a coveted District 6 Championship Banner. Boyd-Catlettsburg reached the finals of the 10u All-Stars but came up just short in a 6-2 loss to Morehead and the Boyd-Catlettsburg 12u team reached the semi-finals but fell to Carter County.

Russell-Flatwoods 9-11 All-Stars will advance to round one of the state tournament on July 20, 2024, at Miller Park, located at 947 Barton Mill Road, Corbin KY.  Lewis commented on the game plan for the state tournament, “We know there’s going to be really tough competition there, but we’re looking forward to it. Last year we lost in the District Championship to Morehead, who went on to win the State tournament. It stung knowing we were that close to doing something special so we’re hoping to capitalize on the opportunity. Our kids have worked hard all off-season, even over the winter months to get to where we are now so I think we’re ready for it. We’re just going to practice like we normally do; focusing on fundamentals, situational baseball, the right mental mindset but most importantly remembering to have some fun.”

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