OWENSBORO – The home team was untouchable all tournament.
Between four pool-play games and a semifinal victory, no team had yet to score on Owensboro Southern.
And here comes Bowling Green East.
A quick first inning was all the BG East 11- and 12-year-old All-Stars needed to put Owensboro Southern in the hole. Evan Schallert took care of the rest with a complete game on the mound to earn BG East a 3-1 win to claim the District 1 Tournament title Thursday.
BG East scored all three runs in the first inning and Schallert grew stronger and more confident as each inning drew the team closer to the state tournament in Prestonburg.
“That was a great team and a great opportunity and we just fought through it,” shortstop Grayson Newman said. “It felt great. Wish we could’ve gotten more, but we won every inning and did what a team does. We played together. It’s not me, it’s we.”
BG East needed a clutch performance from Schallert in its closest game of the tournament, even if manager Rick Kelley was unsure how long Schallert would throw in the championship game.
Schallert had only thrown one inning all tournament, but he kept Owensboro Southern off balance for a complete game on 63 pitches. He finished with six hits allowed, but four came in the first two innings.
“I’m just really proud of Evan for the toughness he showed,” Kelley said. “I think he got more confident. That was the biggest fear we had going into it, does he have the confidence? Putting the three runs on the board in the first inning helped tremendously.”
Schallert got the first two outs of the bottom of the fifth on strikeouts and retired his sixth for the second out in the final inning. He went back to his shortstop skills to secure a fly ball in the infield for the final out.
“I felt confident because I pitched a lot in the league and in season,” Schallert said. “Coming in here I knew I had the best defense. I knew if I pitched, the defense would do their job. I felt (pressure) a little bit. But I knew I could do it. Mid-game I felt really good because we were up.”
His job was made easy in the first inning when BG East hung three on the board early.
He led off with a double and scored two batters later on Jameson Napper’s double. Grayson Newman’s two-run single brought in the last two runs BG East needed.
“The key was coming out and scoring three runs in the first inning,” Kelley said. “They hadn’t been scored on the whole tournament. Our mindset was take the fastball away and bust it and see if we can’t put some runs on the board and we did a good job of that in the first inning.”
Schallert, Napper and Newman had two hits each to give BG East six on an emotional night where players hung a Mason Goodnight jersey on the dugout fence. Mason passed away in 2017 and would’ve been a teammate with many of the current BG East players on the 11-12 all-stars. His father, Jef, is an assistant coach with the team.
“We’re always up and Mason is always with us,” Napper said. “He’s very important to us. He keeps us up at all times. We all knew Mason would get us up. Evan did a great job pitching out there, probably the best game I’ve ever seen him pitch. He pitched his heart out.”
Bowling Green East 300 000 – 3 6 1
Owensboro Southern 010 000 – 1 6 0
WP: Schallert. LP: Smith.