TIM WEIGHT/Special to the Sun-Gazette Tri-Town players celebrate scoring a run against Keystone in the District 12 Major Baseball Winners’ Bracket final on Wednesday at Beech Creek.

BEECH CREEK – The start of July means time for Little League all-star seasons in baseball and softball. On Wednesday night, Keystone’s premier baseball team took on Tri-Town in the final of the District 12 winners’ bracket.

After a pitching battle, Tri-Town emerged victorious, 8-2. This was thanks to a tremendous sixth inning with six runs scored, breaking the tie.

Tri-Town advances to the District 12 championship game, scheduled for Monday at Volunteer Stadium. Keystone falls into the losers bracket and plays an elimination game on Friday.

Throughout the race, there was a battle between Tri-Town’s Lyle Huggler (2-for-3) and Keystone’s Gio Cej (1-for-2), with them competing head-to-head on the mound.

Huggler threw four innings and only 50 pitches, while Cej threw five innings and 82 pitches.

TIM WEIGHT/Special to the Sun-Gazette Keystone and Tri-Town will compete in the District 12 Major Baseball Winners’ Bracket final on Wednesday at Beech Creek.

“He’s worked really hard and this is probably his best year as a pitcher. I preach to all the younger kids to keep going, pitching is so hard, but he’s done a good job” said Tri-Town coach Lyle Huggler.

“He did a great job, a lot of pitches were balls, and that brought his pitch count up, which forced us to go with the reliever earlier,” said Keystone coach Tony Miller. “He’s the only 11-year-old on the team, two games in a row and he’s pitched pretty well, and he’s only given up two runs.”

The score was tied at 2-2 in the sixth inning with Keystone’s Chase Karstetter now pitching in relief of Gio Cej. Kaden Caster, who was 3 for 3 and made an error, led off the sixth inning for Tri-Town and was able to get on base with balls that brought up Lyle Huggler. Huggler hit a two-run homer to center field on the next at bat to give Tri-Town a 4-2 lead over Keystone.

“That’s my son and we play a lot of baseball, he’s very patient at the plate. He had a 2-0 count, and I knew he was onto something when he just sat back and hit it,” said coach Huggler. “Super, super proud of him and it was a beautiful father-son moment.”

From that point on, Tri-Town managed to score four more runs with two hits in that same inning, bringing the score to 8-2.

TIM WEIGHT/Special to the Sun-Gazette Tri-Town players talk with their coach during a visit to the mound against Keystone in the District 12 Major Baseball Winners’ Bracket final on Wednesday at Beech Creek.

“Last year we were in the same situation: we were seven points behind in the sections and came back with seven points to two,” said Miller. “It can happen, so never give up and we kept their morale up a bit, and they are a really good team. I hope we get the chance to play them again and we play the winner of this game and see what happens on Friday.”

Tri-Town was able to grab its first lead of the game in the third inning when Begux Richmond (1 for 3) reached on a single to center field. From there, Jameson Smith (2 for 3, fielder’s choice) doubled to center field, sending Richmond to third. Kaden Caster (3 for 3) brought Richmond home with an RBI ground ball to shortstop. Lyle Huggler brought Smith home when he reached on an error that inning.

Keystone would not go down quietly, however, and the next inning they tied the game at 2-2. The two-run rally began when leadoff batter Lincoln Prough (3 for 3) reached on a hit by a pitch. He was able to steal second and the next batter got in scoring position on a wild pitch. Austin Dupert (2 for 3) was next to bat and was able to single to left center field. Both players were able to advance after an error was made on the throw back to the infield, resulting in Keystone cutting the Tri-Towns lead in half.

Dupert then managed to steal a wild pitch from the next batter to tie the score at 2-2.

“You have to know where the momentum is, you have to see when the kids are down and we called a timeout and talked to them, told them to keep their heads up and that we’re in the middle of it,” Miller said, “And guess what? We fought back and scored two runs to tie the score.

TIM WEIGHT/Special to the Sun-Gazette Lincoln Prough of Keystone is safely in second place.

“Little League is so emotional, it has its ups and downs. When they pulled out their pitcher and threw the other kid in, I thought, ‘Boy, that’s a huge advantage.’” Miller added. “I think we might be a little intimidated by his size. I mean, that kid hit a huge home run. The other kid is a good pitcher too.”

Three-City 8, Keystone 2

Three-City 0002 006 – 8 6 1

Keystone 000 200 – 2 3 4

Lyle Huggler and Begux Richmond. Gio Cej, Chase Karstetter (6) and Ehan Nestor, Brad Brungard.

TIM WEIGHT/Special to the Sun-Gazette Keystone’s Drayton Packer hits a ball and connects against Tri-Town in the District 12 Major Baseball Winners’ Bracket final on Wednesday at Beech Creek.

Top Tri-Town hitters: Jameson Smith 2B, run; Kaden Caster BB, run; Roman Neckbach 1B, run; Jose Spangler BB, run; Kameron Caster BB, run; Kellynn Wool 2B, BB, run; Conner Gordner 1B, IBB; Brayden Swartz 2B; Begux Richmond 1B, run. Top Keystone hitters: Lincoln Prough 1B, HBP, run; Austin Dupert 1B, run; Gio Cej HBP; Cott Hill 2B.

TIM WEIGHT/Special to the Sun-Gazette Tri-Town’s Lyle Huggler plays Keystone in the District 12 Major Baseball Winners’ Bracket final on Wednesday at Beech Creek.

TIM WEIGHT/Special to the Sun-Gazette Keystone’s Gio Cej plays Tri-Town in the District 12 Major Baseball Winners’ Bracket final on Wednesday at Beech Creek.

TIM WEIGHT/Special to the Sun-Gazette Two Keystone players exchange a high five during the District 12 Major Baseball Winners’ Bracket final on Wednesday at Beech Creek.

TIM WEIGHT/Special to the Sun-Gazette Tri-Town’s Conner Gordner reaches base in the District 12 Major Baseball Winners’ Bracket final on Wednesday at Beech Creek.

TIM WEIGHT/Special to the Sun-Gazette Keystone’s Austin Dupert scores a hit against Tri-Town in the District 12 Major Baseball Winners’ Bracket final on Wednesday at Beech Creek.

TIM WEIGHT/Special to the Sun-Gazette Tri-Town’s Jose Spangler has a single against Keystone in the District 12 Major Baseball Winners’ Bracket final on Wednesday at Beech Creek.


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