CLAYTON — Capitalizing on a big sixth-inning rally, the Astros claimed the Clayton Civitan Minor League baseball (ages 9-10) championship Sunday afternoon with a 4-3 triumph over the Braves.
Tied 3-3 with one out in the bottom of the inning, the Astros, who had seen a 3-1 lead slip away, got their winning rally started with a sharp single from Kyle Rhoades. They didn’t have to wait long to take advantage of that hit, as Jerrid Staten followed with a double to right.
Rhoades never stopped running, as the throw from right was well up the line, allowing the son of coach Lance Rhoades to bolt down the line and slide in before the throw for the winning run.
“Jerrid had that big hit for us,” Lance Rhoades said. “That throw, it looked like the kid who threw it, just let it go - it was well up the third base line.”
The Astros had built at 3-1 second inning lead, taking advantage of a lead-off walk to Staten, a double by Aaron Smigelski, scoring on an overthrow. Two walks and three wild pitches produced the other runs, while starting pitcher Merritt Brooks held off the Braves.
Brooks fanned five and walked one, while surrendering two hits, one a triple by Landon Story that eventually led to the Braves’ second run.
Brooks left the game after the fourth for a church commitment, and the Braves took advantage of the change.
“Merritt could have pitched the entire game for us,” Lance Rhoades said. “He was pounding the strike zone all day and had only thrown 45-to-50 pitches.
“He’s the most consistent pitcher we have, but by fulfilling his obligation it proves there are more important things than baseball.”
The Braves got a one-out single from Tyler Dungkack off Smigelski, but was promptly caught stealing. But Matthew Horstmann walked on a trio of wild pitches to plate the tying run.
“Aaron is usually a good, consistent pitcher,” Lance Rhoades said. “But today wasn’t his day. Fortunately, Colton (St. Clair) came in and got the job done.”