PRESTONSBURG – Next stop, Indianapolis.

Bowling Green East’s 11- and 12-year-old All Stars booked the next leg in their postseason journey Thursday by topping Lexington Eastern 8-3 in the Little League state championship game.

After missing out on a trip to the Great Lakes Regional last year after earning regional spots in both 2015 and 2016 – when BG East won both times to earn back-to-back trips to the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pa. – this year’s crop of BG East All-Stars will be newcomers to Indy.

Sort of, anyway.

BG East head coach Rick Kelley pointed out after Thursday’s win that several of his players have experienced the Great Lakes Regional – not as players, but as younger brothers.

“I think it does help just from the standout of familiarity,” Kelley said. “There’s confidence in going there and knowing that Bowling Green East has won a couple of Great Lakes championships. So I think that gives you confidence and a lot of positive momentum going into it.”

BG East got going early against Lexington Eastern. The Lexington All-Stars had the intimidation factor on the mound in the form of towering left-hander Evan Bishop, but BG East turned the tables with a quick scoring burst.

Jameson Napper slashed a two-out single up the middle, then William Alexander followed by turning on a 1-0 fastball from Bishop and launching it over the left-field fence for a two-run homer.

“He’s pitched really well throughout the tournament,” Kelley said. “Our philosophy was to try and hit him early and see if he could withstand the pressure.

“... (Alexander’s homer) was huge. When you’re the visitors, you need to score some runs and we were able to do that tonight.”

BG East amped up the pressure in the top of the second, loading the bases with one out before Luke Idlett was hit by a pitch to force in a run. BG East plated another run on a throwing error, then Napper smoked a two-run double to right-center field. Napper capped the five-run outburst by scoring on a wild pitch as BG built a 7-0 lead.

“Our whole philosophy was to just take the visitor’s side and try to hit the ball to put some runs on the board to just take some of the pressure off our pitchers,” Kelley said. “We did that very well in both the first and second innings.”

Lexington Eastern scored three unearned runs off BG East starter Grayson Newman in the bottom of the third to pull within 7-3, but Chaze Huff came on to toss three innings of hitless relief and BG East added on in the fifth with Evan Schallert’s RBI single.

Napper had a big day at the plate, going 3-for-4 with a pair of RBIs and two runs scored for BG East. Napper, subbing for the first time in the postseason at catcher for injured teammate Harrison Yates, also made a highlight reel-worthy catch for the final out.

“That’s the first game he’s caught for us during tournament play,” Kelley said. “He did a great job back there, made that great diving catch a the end of the game and hit the ball really, really well. Great game for Jameson.”

Alexander, Schallert and Matthew Escalera finished with two hits each for BG East, which tallied 13 hits in all.

“I’m just really proud of how well we did hitting the ball today,” Kelley said.

BG East 250 010 – 8 11 3

Lexington Eastern 003 000 – 3 6 1

WP – Newman. LP – Bishop.{&end}

– Follow sports editor Jeff Nations on Twitter @Jeff_NationsBG or visit bgdailynews.com.

0
0
0
0
0

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.