WACO — After three straight losses to Fort Worth University — two of them in last year’s 9-10 year-old sectional tournament and the other this year — the players on Sweetwater’s 10-11 year-old Little League team faced their nemesis again in a losers bracket final Saturday at the Texas West Section 2 tournament in Waco.
This time, the teams en-gaged in a thrilling contest that saw the teams locked in a 3-3 tie at the end of the regulation six innings.
But Fort Worth ultimately prevailed, 7-3, on a game-winning grand slam homer in the bottom of the eighth inning that advanced them into Sunday’s sectional championship game against Waco Midway.
Sweetwater trailed 3-1 af-ter two innings, but fought back to tie it with runs in the fourth and fifth innings while completely shutting down Fort Worth and forcing extra innings until the dramatic finish.
“I’m so proud of the effort that our kids gave,” said manager Kenny Maxwell. “Sometimes it’s hard for kids this age to stay focused when they go to a sectional tournament, but they did.”
Sweetwater took a 1-0 lead in the first inning when Kobe Clark led off with a triple and eventually scored on Mason Maxwell’s RBI grounder. Fort Worth took advantage of two errors to go up 2-1 in the bottom of the first and added another run in the second, but Sweetwater soon fought back to tie the game.
Taylor Turney singled in the fourth and his pinch-runner, Andrew Melendez, eventually scored on Clark’s single to make it 3-2. Sweet-water then tied it in the fourth on Jordan McGee’s solo homer, and it stayed 3-3 until the eighth.
Sweetwater had a golden opportunity to take the lead in its half of the seventh after putting two runners on base when McGee singled and Kiante McCoy drew a walk. Maxwell then hit a hard smash only to see Fort Worth’s shortstop catch it for the third out.Chris Thompson singled for Sweetwater with no outs in the eighth and advanced to second on a passed ball, only to be stranded.
Maxwell pitched the first 4 2/3 innings, allowing just four hits and striking out four. Thompson (1 inning, 2 strikeouts) and Clark (1 1/3, 3 Ks) also pitched. Noah Martinez (triple) and Ky Hoover (single) also had hits and McGee reached base four times.