DISTRICT 5 CHAMPS
Landon Henley was near perfect Monday night.
The tall righthander pitched a complete-game one-hit gem and the bats of his teammates provided able run support as the Waynesville-based Mountaineer Little League all-star baseball team beat Henderson County, 6-1, in the District 5 championship game Monday night at the Elks Lodge’s Simmons Field.
Henley was at his best on the mound, striking out 10 and did not walk a batter. He took a no-hitter into the top of the sixth, but a perfectly placed bunt single ruined his bid for a “no-no.”
Henley kept the Henderson County hitters off balance the entire game, facing only four batters over the minimum. He did not allow a earned run.
Stirling Thomas led the Mountaineer offense with two hits, while Jaxon Langston (2 RBI) Patrick Broom and Logan Chambers (RBI) had one hit each. Kizer Nelson, and Payden Sutton drove in a run each.
Mountaineer took the lead in the top of the second when Thomas poked a lead-off single and later scored on a bases loaded walk coaxed by Chambers.
The Waynesville boys padded its lead with five runs in the third, sparked by Langston’s two-RBI single that drove in Nelson and Hunter Trull.
The 6-1 lead proved to be all Henley needed as he allowed just two base runners for the remainder of the game.
“These guys came here tonight full of confidence and ready to play,” said MLL Manager David McKay. “They had a great approach at the plate, and really made the Henderson County pitchers work hard. Every hitter contributed quality at-bats tonight.
“I think I can speak for the players and coaching staff that we really want to thank the parents and families for coming together to support this team and help the kids stay confident. The whole community showed great support and the home field atmosphere really helped the team to win the championship.”
The Waynesville boys advance to the North Carolina Tournament in Charlotte, which begins on July 20. The state champion will earn a berth into the Southeast Regional in Warner Robbins, Georgia and a spot in the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pennsylvania awaits the regional champion.
“Many of the players on these two teams have been battling each other since they were six years old for District and state titles,” said MLL Assistant Coach Trent Thomas. “When the were 8, Mountaineer beat Henderson County in the state championship game. The following year, as 9-year-olds, Henderson won state, and Mountaineer was second.
“Henderson County then knocked Mountaineer out of the state tournament as 10 year olds. Last year, Henderson County beat Mountaineer on the way to their District 5 championship. This has been a really great rivalry, and we have nothing but respect for all their players and coaches. They played hard like we knew they would, but things just went our way tonight. Congratulations to them for a good tournament.
“And thanks Mackie McKay and the Mountaineer Little League board for running a great tournament. It would not have been possible without the help of all the volunteers who worked hard to keep things running smoothly.”