From Ty Ashley’s leadoff home run to Ty Lillpop striking out the final batter with the bases loaded, the Owensboro Southern 11U All-Stars led the entire way as they claimed the District 1 Tournament championship Thursday with a 5-3 victory over Bowling Green East.
It was quite the turnaround from the previous meeting — a 15-5 win for Bowling Green in Saturday’s pool play game. This time around, Southern manager Todd Lillpop wanted to make sure his team struck first.
“I won the toss and I chose to be visitors on purpose,” he said. “And my gosh did we not start the game off with a bang. That set the tone for everything. Our defense held together just enough to win the game.”
Ashley hit the third pitch of the game over the left field fence for a quick run. Jayden James drew a walk and moved over on a single by Ty Lillpop, and both scored on a single by Brayden Burger.
James helped lead the offense — he went 2-for-2 with two walks, a run and an RBI — but more important was his control on the mound. He went 5.2 innings before reaching his pitch limit, and James allowed a single earned run on six hits with three strikeouts and no walks.
“Jayden James, you can’t enough about him on the mound,” Todd Lillpop said. “The kid’s a stud.”
Owensboro carried a 3-2 lead into the final inning but added a couple of necessary runs. With bases loaded and two outs, James drove a single back up the middle to score Daveon Hinton. A hard grounder by Ty Lillpop then got past the short stop, allowing Nolan Johnson to score and push the lead to 5-2.
The bottom half started just like the top — bases loaded and two outs on the board. An error allowed one Bowling Green run to score before Ty Lillpop was able to strike out the last batter and seal the win.
Southern finished with 11 errors, but they made the plays they need them most.
“Bowling Green is so good that you have to do those small things right,” Todd Lillpop said. “You have to pitch it and be able to throw strikes. If you do, you’re golden.”
Ty Lillpop had the only other multi-hit day for Owensboro, adding a run and RBI. Burger led with two RBIs.
Southern now advances to the state tournament set to beginning July 19 in Prestonsburg. Todd Lillpop wants to carry the momentum forward.
“We just want to go up there and take care of business,” he said. “We want to represent District 1 to the fullest. Our job is not only to do it for Southern, which is our main focus, but now it’s for the whole district.”