The thing that bothered Mike Mettner the most about Friday night’s loss was the fact that the first couple of innings weren’t representative of what the Ahwatukee Little Leaguers are all about on the diamond.
Hit batsmen, bad fielding and impatient at-bats led to an early six-run deficit against Chandler National South in the District 13 title game for the 9-10 age division.
The uncharacteristic play was too much for ALL to fully recover from in an 8-7 loss at Tempe Sports Complex.
“This was a tough one and to be honest we lost it in the first inning,” said Mettner, the ALL manager. “We made some uncharacteristic mistakes, the bats weren’t hot early and it was enough to beat us.
“But you saw what we are about at the end. We always want to finish strong and we did, but it wasn’t enough.”
Trailing 8-4 heading into sixth and final inning, ALL made a comeback run, capped by a long Matthew McKeon home run to center field, and had the tying run on base when Tyvon Moore singled with two outs but it wasn’t to be.
“We never gave up and kept playing hard,” catcher Jacob Mitchell said. “I think some of us were nervous in the beginning.”
The game was almost a complete reversal from the first meeting between the two teams. In the first game of the tournament, ALL had a three-run lead to start the sixth inning, but Chandler National South scored four runs in its final at-bat for the win.
Chandler National South advances to the state tournament, which starts Thursday, in Show Low.
The ALL went 5-2 and had its five-game win streak end in the championship game.
“This team came together and played great for the most part,” Mettner said. “We had two bad innings all tournament and it cost us, but we had a great time.”
Check out Wednesday’s edition of the AFN for a feature story on Mitchell and why his No. 44 jersey is so important to him.
Contact writer: (480) 898-7915 or JSkoda@ahwatukee.com. Follow him on Twitter @JSkodaAFN.