Shawn Morado belted a two-run homer in the top of the eighth inning to give Lufkin a 5-4 victory over the College Station Major Boys All-Stars on Tuesday night in the Section 1 Little League tournament at Bachmann Park.
Morado’s blast along with the relief pitching of Francisco Serrano eliminated College Station and put Lufkin into the championship game against Austin Western Hills on Wednesday. Lufkin will have to beat Western Hills twice to advance.
The teams used the international tiebreaker in the eighth inning, each starting with a runner on second base. After two quick outs, Lufkin’s Grant Stafford took third on a wild pitch, then Morado gave Lufkin a 5-3 lead with his homer just to the right of center field.
Brayson Urbanczyk started at second for College Station in the bottom of the eighth, advanced on Jordan Fowler’s ground out then scored on Johnson’s grounder to shortstop. But Serrano, who came in with one out in the fourth inning, got Colton Haas to ground out to end the game.
Lufkin tied the game at 3 in the fifth on a two-run homer by Colt Larsen that easily cleared the left-center field fence. The two homers were the only two hits Lufkin managed after the second inning.
College Station’s defense, which made only one error, caught everything else the Lufkin hitters put in play, including a liner that right-fielder Keaton Johnson dived to catch to help send the game into extra innings.
With two outs and runners on first and third in the top of the sixth, Michael Sullivan lined a ball that sliced away from Johnson. By the time he stood up to show he had made the catch, nearly the entire College Station team was out to greet him.
Johnson then led off the bottom of the sixth with a sharp single up the middle. He took second on Haas’ sacrifice bunt, but Lufkin stranded him there to force extra innings.
College Station took a 2- 1 lead in the second inning. Zeke Bullard singled with one out, and Thomas Herring walked. Pinch runner Peter Najvar and Herring each moved up a base on a wild pitch, and Urbanczyk lined a single up the middle to drive in both runners.
College Station added a run in the third after loading the bases with a walk by Cannon Kieschnick, a line drive single to right field by Wilson Stapp and an infield single by Bullard. Madden Hurd then walked with two outs to drive in the run.
Meanwhile, College Station starting pitcher Erich Glenewinkel was in control with help from his defense. Glenewinkel struck out six, including the last batter he faced, and walked three in 5 2/3 innings. He was replaced by Stapp after reaching his pitch-count limit. Glenewinkel gave up three runs on four hits, two of which came in the first inning when Lufkin took a 1-0 lead.
The deficit could have been more, but College Station left fielder Herring chased down a Morado base hit to the left-center field fence and threw a strike to third base to get Jack Bowers for the third out.
In the second inning, College Station turned a double play to quickly erase Serrano’s single to right. Glenewinkel helped himself in the fourth inning, knocking down a line drive off the bat of Serrano and calmly throwing to first for the out.
Lufkin shortstop Stafford matched Johnson’s defensive gem. Stafford caught Herring’s fly ball on the run, turned and doubled off Bullard, who had opened the fifth inning with his third single. Instead of two runners on base, College Station had two outs and no one on when Urbanczyk singled to center field.
College Station out-hit Lufkin nine to five, but all nine hit were singles. Urbanczyk had two hits, and starters Haas, Johnson and Stapp each had one. Jack Crumpler singled sharply to right field in his one at-bat for College Station.
The College Station 9, 10 & 11-year-old baseball team lost 8-1 to Northwest in the winners’ bracket finale Sunday at Austin Northwest Little League, then dropped a 5-0 game to Washington County in a rematch of the opener won by College Station 9-8.
The Brazos County 8, 9 & 10-year-old softball team defeated Smithville 10-6 in an elimination game Sunday in Pflugerville. Brazos County advanced to Tuesday night’s title game against Columbus, which beat Brazos County 17-1 on Saturday.
The Columbus Major Softball team defeated Bastrop 5-4 to win the Section 1 title Monday night at Henderson Park. Columbus advances to the East Texas State tournament in El Campo.