Basketball

Greater Bay stung by walk-off finish in ‘Instant Classic’ Little League clash



RICHMOND, MI – The Greater Bay pitchers made it tough to put the bat on the ball.

But Grand Rapids Southern found a way to score without a hit, delivering a unique walk-off win in a 2-1, extra-inning thriller at the Little League baseball state tournament for ages 11-and-under.

Grand Rapids Southern used a bases-loaded hit-by-pitch to score the game-winning run in the suspenseful showdown, putting Greater Bay’s backs to the wall in the 12-team tournament at Richmond.

“The tournament director called it an instant ESPN classic and one of the best games he’s ever watched,” Greater Bay coach Zack Asel said. “Our pitching and defense showed up. We just came up a little short.”

UPDATED Little League 11-under state tourney pairings, results

Greater Bay takes on South Portage at 4 p.m. Sunday in the final round of pool play, most likely needing a victory for a chance to advance to the single-elimination state quarterfinals that begin Monday.

“We still have life and we are going to put everything together tomorrow and play a complete game like we know we can,” Asel said.

The showdown with Southern was a thrill-a-minute matchup as both teams battled the full six innings and beyond. The game was deadlocked at 1-1 through regulation and remained so after the first extra inning.

With the international tiebreaker rule in effect for the eighth inning, Southern began its final at-bats with a runner placed at second. After a groundout advanced the potential winning run to third base with one out, Greater Bay elected to intentionally walk the next two batters to load the bases.

After registering the second out, GBLL stood one out away from dramatically escaping the jam. Instead, the next pitch hit the Southern batter, driving in the game-winning run.

The loss knocks Greater Bay to 0-2 in pool play and puts it in a virtual must-win situation. But a win Sunday would give the Bay County-based squad a chance at a Top-4 finish in the pool and a shot at the single-elimination round.

Greater Bay took a 1-0 lead on Southern in the fourth inning when Cayden Prime dashed to the plate.

Prime, Jack VanOcthen, Isaiah Jones and Carter Deitlein each delivered one hit in the contest while Lucas Clark led the offense with two hits. But the Southern pitchers rung up 14 batters on strikes.

Greater Bay’s pitching was stellar as well, with Jett Gohr throwing 3.2 innings of hitless ball with six strikeouts. Clark worked the final 3.2 innings, allowing two hits and fanning four. Southern knotted the game at 1-1 in the fifth inning, setting the stage for the fateful eighth.

The game would be decided by a hit-by-pitch, sending the winning run trotting across the plate.

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