CANTON, July 12 – It could have been a devastating defeat but losing in the first game of the championship round wasn’t anything new for the Avon Little League baseball team.
Avon lost to Simsbury in the finals of the District 6 Major Division tournament (ages 10-12) on Wednesday night on a throwing error in the bottom of the eighth inning, losing for the first time this summer. Since it is a double-elimination tournament, Avon got another chance.
Avon took advantage. They erased a one-run deficit with a seven-run fifth inning to beat Simsbury, 10-4 and capture their third Major Division championship in the last four years. Simsbury (7-2) committed two errors in the fifth inning, walked two batters and hit a batter.
Avon (7-1) advances to the state tournament and will play in the three-team Section II group beginning on Tuesday in Naugatuck. The winner of the group advances to the four-team double elimination state championship finals in East Lyme on July 25-29.
Avon led 3-0 after three innings only to see Simsbury rally to take a 4-3 lead in the top of the fifth inning. But Avon didn’t panic. A year ago, Avon dropped the first game of the championship series in the District 6 Minor Division (ages 9-11) before rallying to win the second game, 13-3 and capture the D6 championship.
“The kids did it last year (win a District 6 championship) in the same spot,” Avon manager Lee Fitting said. “That what these kids do. It’s all them. They weren’t worried. They were composed and they knew what the outcome would be tonight.
“They played Avon baseball,” he said. “They stuck together as a team and supported each other.”
It wasn’t one or two players. Everyone chipped in some way. Avon had just six hits – from six players. Two additional players drove in runs after coaxing walks with the bases loaded. Two Avon pitchers gave up eight hits but they struck out six.
Avon took a 2-0 lead in the first inning on a two-run single from Chase Beloin. They extended it to 3-0 in the third inning on a solo home run from Connor Lavore.
Simsbury (7-2) didn’t go quietly. They scored two runs on a throwing error and a third run on a RBI single from starting pitcher Jack Sheldon to tie the game at 3-3 in the top of the fourth inning. Avon reliever Jake Coppen got a strikeout and his defense turned a double play to help keep Avon in the game.
Simsbury took a 4-3 lead in the fifth inning. Ryan Donahue singled, moved to second on a wild pitch, took third base on an infield ground ball and scored on another wild pitch.
Avon broke open the game in the fifth inning, sending 11 men to the plate, scoring seven runs on three hits. Simsbury made two errors and gave up two walks as Avon took a 10-4 lead. Tyler Assan-Gracy had a two-run single for Avon.
Other Avon hits came from Coppen, Colin Miley, Lavore, Beloin and Drew Fitting. For Simsbury, Sheldon had two hits while Donahue, Petras, Brendan Lynch, T.J. Pearlman, Mitchell Wallman and Jacob Cohen each had singles.
Eleven of the 12 Avon players were members of last year’s District 6 championship team in the Minor Division. And they also won a District 6 title three years ago in the 8-10 division.
“They’re the best of friends,” Lee Fitting said. “They’re a tight-knit group and they support each other.”
It was the eleventh District 6 Major Division championship for Avon since 1991 when they won their first D6 title. Simsbury owns the District 6 record with 26 championships.
Avon 10, Simsbury 4
Simsbury (7-2) 000 310 – 4-8-2
Avon (7-1) 201 07x – 10-6-1
Jack Sheldon, Austin Coiro (5) and Ty Petras; Colin Miley, Luke Coppin (4) and Jacob Wirth; WP: Coppin; LP: Sheldon; 2B: none; 3B: none; HR: Connor Lavore (A)
2018 District 6 Major Division Baseball
Avon 5, Granby/East Granby 3
Avon 7, Burlington 4
Avon 5, Torrington 1
Avon 3, Granby/East Granby 2
Burlington 1, Torrington 0
Burlington 7, Granby/East Granby 2
Torrington 11, Burlington 7
Granby/East Granby 10, Torrington 0
Standings: Avon 4-0, Burlington 2-2, Granby/East Granby 1-3, Torrington 1-3
Simsbury 6, Canton 0
Simsbury 7, Tri-Town 2
Simsbury 10, Terryville 0
Simsbury 7, Canton 2
Canton 8, Tri-Town 6
Canton 16, Terryville 0
Terryville 2, Tri-Town 1
Terryville 5, Tri-Town 3
Standings: Simsbury 4-0, Canton 2-2, Terryville 2-2, Tri-Town 0-4
Avon 11, Canton 1
Burlington 6, Simsbury 2
Avon 10, Burlington 4
Simsbury 10, Canton 3, Canton eliminated
Simsbury 7, Burlington 2, Burlington eliminated
Simsbury 3, Avon 2 (8)
Avon 10, Simsbury 4, Simsbury eliminated