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Cambridge City tops New Castle for 8U title

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Jaxon Grubbs of the New Castle Little League Baseball 8U Green Team lines the ball for a lead-off single during the bottom of the fourth inning of Tuesday evening’s championship game of the District 6 Tournament against host Cambridge City at Creitz Park. Grubbs had two hits and scored a run, but New Castle lost to Cambridge City 10-5.
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Fletcher Callahan (right) of the Cambridge City Little League Baseball 8U Team is all smiles as he heads for home plate after belting a solo home run during the top of the sixth inning of his team’s 10-5 victory over New Castle in Tuesday evening’s championship game of the District 6 Tournament at Cambridge City’s Creitz Park.
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Jaiden Johnson of the New Castle Little League Baseball 8U Green Team connects on a single to drive in New Castle’s final run against Cambridge City during the bottom of the fourth inning of Tuesday evening’s championship game of the District 6 Tournament at Cambridge City’s Creitz Park. New Castle lost 10-5.
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Players on the Cambridge City Little League Baseball 8U team pose with trophies in hand and smiles on their faces after defeating New Castle 10-5 in Tuesday evening’s District 6 Tournament championship game at Cambridge City’s Creitz Park. The team finished 5-0 in the tournament.
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ABOVE: Players with their runner-up trophies and coaches on the New Castle Little League Baseball 8U Green Team pose for a photo after falling to Cambridge City 10-5 in Tuesday evening’s championship game of the District 6 Tournament at Cambridge City’s Creitz Park. RIGHT: Jaxon Grubbs of the New Castle Little League Baseball 8U Green Team lines the ball for a lead-off single during the bottom of the fourth inning of Tuesday evening’s championship game of the District 6 Tournament against host Cambridge City at Creitz Park. Grubbs had two hits and scored a run, but New Castle lost to Cambridge City 10-5.

By DAVID RISLEY - drisley@thecouriertimes.com

CAMBRIDGE CITY — Both Cambridge City and the New Castle Little League Baseball 8U Green team entered Tuesday evening’s championship game of the District 6 Tournament at Creitz Park undefeated in the tourney, as both had 4-0 records.

Although the host, Cambridge City was the guest on the scoreboard and had one big scoring inning, adding a few more runs here and there to post a 10-5 victory over New Castle to win the championship.

“We allowed one big inning and that was the difference,” New Castle Green Manager Chris Howe said afterward. “We let some balls get by that we normally handle, but I’m proud of our boys for what they’ve accomplished this season and in the tournament.”

The game began a few minutes before its scheduled starting time of 6 p.m. Cambridge City was up to bat first and got two runners on base, but none scored in the first inning, and New Castle got one runner on base in the bottom of the frame, but he, too, failed to cross the plate.

Defense is very important at this level, and New Castle shined in that aspect in the top of the second inning as Cambridge City was retired 1-2-3. New Castle then grabbed the early advantage in the bottom of the frame with Manager Howe tossing the pitches.

Kanaan Cramner led off by reaching base on an error, and Caidan Ragan’s single moved Cramner to third base. Cramner scored on Ryan Logsdon’s fielder’s choice grounder for a 1-0 New Castle lead as Ragan was forced out at second base.

Another fielder’s choice grounder by Luke Brewster forced Logsdon out at second base, and Jaiden Johnson grounded out to the first baseman to end the inning.

Cambridge City took the lead for good in the top of the third inning. Trevor Zapfe led off by reaching base on an error, moved to third base on a single to centerfield by Gaige Collins, who took second on the throw-in, and scored on a fielder’s choice grounder by Jaxyn Hunt to tie the game 1-1 with Collins out at third base.

Cale Lucas reached base on an error and took second as Hunt came in to score for a 2-1 Cambridge City advantage. The next two batters were retired to end the inning.

With one out in the bottom of the third, Hunter Kraus singled to right field, but was out at second base on Ike Johnson’s fielder’s choice grounder. Kypton Boatright then singled to centerfield, but Johnson was tagged out trying to reach third base on the play to retire the side.

Cambridge City’s big inning was the top of the fourth, when it scored five runs to build its lead to 7-1. Nick Hileman led off by reaching base on an error and Kaden Hall’s single moved Hileman to third base. Ken Golliher’s single brought Hileman across the plate.

Michael Wren beat out an infield hit to load the sacks. Hall scored on a grounder by Carter Sullivan for a 4-1 advantage. Damarius Madison’s double to right field plated Golliher and Wren and Zapfe’s RBI single enabled Madison to score for the maximum runs allowed per inning.

“We can hit the ball,” Cambridge City Manager Fletcher Callahan said afterward. “But with us pitching to our own players, defense is the key to winning at this level. We’ve played excellent defense in this tournament, and that’s what we’ve tried to instill in our players and hope it stays with them.”

New Castle bounced back to pull back to within two runs in the bottom of the fourth inning. Jaxon Grubbs led off by singling off the third baseman’s glove, but was out at second base on Alex Middleton’s fielder’s choice grounder. Carter Howe singled to left field but was tagged out at second base on Cramner’s fielder’s choice grounder as Middleton moved to third base.

But with two away, New Castle got consecutive singles from Ragan, Logston, Brewster, and Jaiden Johnson, and Middleton, Cramner, Ragan, and Logston scored on them to pull the Green to within 7-5. Johnson was forced out at second base on John Brasher’s ground ball to end the inning.

“We did a good job that inning in stringing some hits together against a good defensive team.” Manager Howe added. “We just couldn’t do that in the other innings. Credit Cambridge City for that. We’re not through for the summer yet, as we have some tournaments that we are scheduled to play in.”

Cambridge City got one of those runs back in the top of the fifth inning. With one out, Hunt got an infield hit and took second base after an error on the play. Hunt moved to third on a single by Lucas and Hunt scored on Braden Larken’s fielder’s choice grounder for an 8-5 lead and Lucas was out at second base on the play.

Larken was forced out at second base on Rowan Marshall’s fielder’s choice grounder to retire the side. New Castle went down 1-2-3 in the last of the fifth.

In the top of the sixth inning, there was no defending the ball Cambridge City lead-off batter Fletcher Callahan hit, as the manager’s son launched it over the right field fence for a solo home run. With one away, Hall’s fly ball to the outfield was misplayed, and Hall ended up on third base.

Hall scored on Golliher’s infield hit to boost Cambridge City’s advantage to 10-5. Force outs at second base on two fielder’s choice grounders ended the inning.

Grubbs led off the bottom of the sixth for New Castle with a single to centerfield. Middleton lined to the third baseman for the first out, and Howe lined out to the shortstop, whose throw to first caught Grubbs off the bag for the game-ending double play at 6:48 p.m.

“Our guys have worked hard this summer,” Manager Callahan added, “and we’re not finished. It’s nice to get them outside for a while and away from all the electronic games. If this group continues to stay together and works hard, good things are in store for Lincoln baseball in a few years.”

The game took about 55 minutes to complete, and both teams were awarded trophies in the ceremony that followed. There is no Little League state tournament at this level.