By Chris Parsons / Staff Writer
WILLIAMSBURG — After both teams cruised to easy victories in Saturday’s opening round, Sunday’s game between Knox County and Williamsburg was a different story.
It took extra innings to determine the winner’s bracket champion in the 9-10-year-old Area 1 All-Star Tournament Sunday with Knox County coming away with a dramatic 10-8 win.
Knox County head coach Jason Hibbard said he was pleased with his team’s effort and focus, especially after giving up a late lead in the sixth inning.
“I’m proud of our kids and the way they fought back after we could have ended the game,” Hibbard said. “It’s tough to keep kids focused, especially at this level and age, but our guys battled the whole way and never gave up.
“This was a tough game, but we were able to come out on top and that’s what counts in the end,” he added.
Williamsburg coach Brant Poore echoed Hibbard’s sentiments after the loss, but said he felt confident his team could turn around and come back ready to face whichever team comes out on top of the game between Pineville/Bell and Middlesboro.
“This was one of those games where you hate to see either team lose because it was such a good game,” Poore said. “Our kids did a great job of battling back in the sixth inning and I’ve got to give them credit for that.
“It came down to a few plays here and there in the seventh inning, but that’s the way baseball goes sometimes,” he added. “We just have to stay focused and get ready to play whoever our next opponent is and try to move on.”
Knox County had cruised past Pineville/Bell in an 11-1 win Saturday, while Williamsburg won by the same margin in a 12-2 victory over Middlesboro to set up Sunday’s showdown.
Knox County jumped ahead in the first inning when Zack Messer walked and came around to score to give his team a 1-0 lead. Williamsburg answered in the bottom of the inning on a two-run single off the bat of Casey Kysar to make the score 2-1 in favor of Williamsburg.
The two teams traded runs in the third inning, allowing Williamsburg to regain the lead at 3-2 heading into the top of the fourth inning, but the slim edge didn’t stand for long.
A two-run fourth inning put Knox County on top 4-3 and a four-run rally in the top of the sixth seemed to put things out of reach for Williamsburg as it trailed 8-3, down to what could have been the last three outs of the game.
After a single by Evan Poore was followed by a base-on-balls to Jackson Osborne, Williamsburg’s Tyler Lewis connected for a hit to trim the gap to 8-5 with no outs in the inning. The drama didn’t end there though. With the bases loaded again, Sydney Bowen came through with a three-run triple to things up at 8-8.
Knox County battled back in the seventh with a pair of runs to regain the lead at 10-8 with three hits in the inning, but this time Williamsburg was unable to answer the bell as they fell, 10-8.