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GARLAND - Sweetwaterâ€™s Senior League (ages 15-16) all-stars built a 3-0 lead against Dallas Wylie in Thursdayâ€™s opening game of the Texas West Section 2 Little League tournament, then held off a late rally for a 3-2 win at the South Garland field.
Sweetwater will now play Waco Southern in the semifinals at 8:30 p.m. today. The winner advances to Saturdayâ€™s championship game, while the loser plays an elimination game at 7:30 p.m. Friday and can still advance to Saturdayâ€™s title contest with a victory.
Thursdayâ€™s game ended in spectacular fashion for Sweetwater after Wylie loaded the bases with one out during its final at bat in the top of the seventh.
With his team training 3-2, Wylieâ€™s Chauncey Malone hit a deep fly ball which it appeared certain would either leave the park or be a bases-clearing double or triple. But Sweetwater center fielder Ryan Linebaugh chased it down and caught the ball against the fence for the second out. Linebaugh then turned and threw to second baseman James Clift, who in turn relayed the ball to catcher Shawn Campbell in time to tag out Wylieâ€™s runner from third base for the final out.
Sweetwater, the District 5 champion, placed errorless ball defensively and got an outstanding pitching effort from Clift, who had a no-hitter until Wylieâ€™s Zach Collins homered with one out in the fifth. Meanwhile, Sweetwater scratched out a run in the third inning and two more in the fourth to take a 3-0 lead.
Willie Norman and Stephen May singled to lead off the third and Norman scored on Linebaughâ€™s sacrifice fly. Sweetwater made it 3-0 in the fourth on singles by Dylan Bennett, Campbell and Mike McCoy plus a fielding error by Wylieâ€™s third baseman on Normanâ€™s bunt. McCoyâ€™s hit scored Bennett, and Wylieâ€™s error allowed Quentin Wetsel to score the third run.
Wylie cut the lead to 3-2 with a pair of singles in the sixth. Clift was lifted in favor of May after walking the leadoff hitter in the seventh. Two of the next three batters singled to load the bases, setting up the thrilling finish.
Bennett had two of Sweetwaterâ€™s seven hits, including a double in the second inning. Clift finished with eight strikeouts, while walking only one and allowing just three hits in six innings.