Anyone who knows anything about sports competition will tell you it’s not how you begin that is important but rather how you finish. As result of a scintillating come-from-behind, 9-8 victory over Winn Parish in the final game of the District Tournament played in West Monroe, the JP13U All-Star baseball team takes tremendous momentum into their next assignment – the Dixie Boys 13U State Tournament slated for July 8-10 in Pineville.
The contest was the second for the locals in the three-team, round robin competition that amounted to a warm-up for the state tournament, as since Jackson Parish was fielding the only 13U team in the district they automatically qualified for state play. In the tourney opener, JP13U fell to the 14 year old team from Union Parish.
“I am really proud of our guys for the way they rallied to finish the tourney on such a strong note,” said JP13U head coach Keith Caskey. “As we were competing against a pair of 14U teams, I really wasn’t expecting a victory but the guys proved not only could play with the older guys, they had the determination and skill to win. I am excited for our team as we head to state.”
JP13U 9 Winn14U 8: Braydon Robinson stroked a clutch, two-out single in the bottom of the seventh inning to score Will Dupree and Hunter Ayres that put the finishing touches on the rally from an 8-4 deficit with only two at bats remaining.
The locals drew to within one run in the inning prior when Cail King, Dupree and Robinson hit back-to-back-to-back singles and then with two outs took advantage of two more hits by Colby Pray and Zach Smudricks.
Jackson Parish drew “first blood” in the bottom of the second when Gunner Fontenot opened with a walk and scored along with Dupree who had followed with a hit on King’s two run single. The lead went to 4-2 the next inning when with two outs, Kyptin Caskey and Fontenot got base hits and then used their speed and daring base running to score with a steal of home and taking advantage of a wild pitch.
JP13U pounded out 14 base hits off of Winn Parish pitching with Pray, Smudricks, Caskey, Fontenot, Dupree, King and Robinson all stroking two singles. Robinson led with 3RBI followed closely by King with two while Dupree scored three runs and Fontenot scored twice. Caskey, King, Robinson and Ayres all chipped in with one run each.
Superb base running also played a big role in the victory with JP13U swiping eight bases led by three steals from Fontenot and two each by Caskey and King. Dupree also joined in with a stolen base. Fontenot earned the win by allowing only one earned run and striking out six in 2.2 innings of work in relief of Smudricks and Pray as all three combined to allow just six hits in the contest.
Union Parish 15 Jackson Parish 3: It was 3-3 after three innings but the older team exploded for 12 runs over the next three innings, including scoring 8 in the top of the sixth to take the victory. Facing a pitching staff of four fire-balling hurlers who struck out 13 JP13U batters, the locals managed only two hits but used a keen eye to coax 13 walks to stay even early as each of the twelve batters, sans one, drew at least one walk. Braden Hardaway, Zach Smudricks and Colby Pray scored the runs for JP13U with Gunner Fontenot and Kyptin Caskey getting an RBI each.