By virtue of their second place finish in the district tournament that was held at the Jackson Parish Recreation Sports Complex from July 8-1, the JP12U All Star baseball team has qualified for the Dixie Youth State Baseball Tournament. The team coached by Steven Moak, Keith Caskey, Colby Hunt and Matt Whitman will continue their quest for a state title, July 21st – 26th in Buckeye.
“Naturally we wanted to win district but I am very proud of our guys for accomplishing the goal of making it to the state tournament,” said Moak. “They gave it all they had which is all a coach can ask for.”
JP12U finished the district tourney with a 2-2 record after winning the first two and falling twice in the championship round of the double elimination tournament. In the opener JP12U slipped past Pineville 9-8 and followed that up with a 6-5 victory over Tioga. The two teams met again in the first title game where this time Tioga won a hard fought 13-11 battle before taking the “winner take all” game by a 12-1 margin.
“We just ran out of gas,” said Moak following the almost six hour marathon played on Monday in brutally hot conditions where the temperatures hovered in the high 90’s for most of the evening.
Jackson Parish 9 Pineville 8: Many a game is won with a “walk off.” This one ended with a “balk off” as JP12U scored the winning run in the bottom of the 7th inning when Kyptin Caskey, who opened the inning by reaching third, skipped home on a balk by the Pineville pitcher. It was a most improbable ending for the contest that had it’s share of ebbs and flows leading to the two teams being tied 8-8 at the end of the regulation six innings.
In the early stages it looked like JP12U would cakewalk their way to the second round after opening the tourney with Conner Moak, Caskey, Gunner Fontenot, Cail King and Emmanuel Hopkins all scoring in the first inning to take a seemingly commanding 5-1 lead. Pineville battled back to take a 7-5 lead in the top of the fourth but the locals immediately rallied to tie it up in the bottom half of the inning on runs by Hopkins and Ayden Greer. Once again Pineville took the lead with a run in the top of the fifth but another run by Greer in the bottom of the sixth sent the game into extra innings leading to the rare ending.
Jackson Parish 6 Tioga 5: For the second straight game the contest was decided in the final inning but this time it was an outstanding defensive play that lifted the locals to the finals. With JP12U leading 7-5, Tioga opened the top of the sixth inning by loading the bases with one out. A long drive to left put a scare in the local fans but fleet footed, Jayden Mendenhall tracked it down and fired it back in to home in an attempt to get the base runner that had tagged. The throw was late but catcher Gunner Fontenot alertly saw the Tioga runner that was on second breaking for third and threw a perfect strike to third baseman Kyptin Caskey who applied the tag to complete the game ending double play.
It was a gutty win for the locals who fell behind 2-0 and 4-1 before rallying to tie it at four each and then took the lead with two decisive runs in the bottom of the fifth inning by Deuce Thomas and Mendenhall. After spotting Tioga a 2-0 advantage, Remi Upshaw scored in the bottom of the second to cut the margin in half. Two more Tioga runs in the top of the fourth up the lead to three only to have the locals tie it up when Connor Moak, Mendenhall, Caskey, Fontenot, Upshaw and Cail King reached base in consecutive at bats.
(Game One) Tioga 13 Jackson Parish 11, (Game Two) Tioga 12 Jackson Parish 1: After being in “rally mode” for virtually the entire contest that featured a girl pitcher for Tioga, a final push by JP12U came up just short. Tioga opened the rematch by scoring four runs in the top of the first but JP12U rallied by scoring four in their half of the inning. Once again Tioga went ahead, this time stretching the lead to 12-6 in the top of the fifth inning. Despite having to bat with a lowering sun that was directly in their eyes, the locals showed their grit by cutting the lead in half heading into the final frame. Another last ditch effort saw JP12U score two more to narrow the final margin to 13-11 that forced the two teams to play one final game for the tourney title that turned out to be a 12-1 Tioga “mercy rule” victory. Due to the time the game ended (close to midnight) and press time requirements no boxscore totals of the final two games were available.
Competing for Jackson Parish was: Conner Moak, Jayden Mendenhall, Kyptin Caskey, Gunner Fontenot, Cail King, Deuce Thomas, Emmanuel Hopkins, Ayden Greer, Remi Upshaw, Kobie Williams, Ridge Horton and Colt Guyotte