Saline County Hitmen win Jacksonville tournament with dramatic rally

Photo courtesy of Tracy Thompson

JACKSONVILLE — The Saline County Hitmen, a 13U AA USSSA baseball team, rallied past the[more] Sheridan Swarm, 9-8, to capture the championship of the Mom Loves Diamonds tournament at Dupree Park on Saturday, May 11.

The team, coached by Jimmy Pennington, Jonathan Wright and Keith Thompson, includes Myers Buck, Caleb Dorsey, Joe Green, Christian Harp, Boston Heil, Zak Kemp, Blake Pennington, Jacob Stroud, Ethan Thompson and Cooper Wright.

The title came on the heels of the team winning the third leg of the Everett Buick GMC tournament in Benton on May 5.

At Jacksonville, the Hitmen rallied for two runs in the bottom of the fifth inning to pull out the victory over Sheridan, which went into the home fifth with an 8-7 edge.

The game-winner rally started with a one-out double from Pennington. Harp reached on a third-strike wild pitch then Green beat out a hit to load the bases. Dorsey was hit by a pitch to force in the tying run then Stroud came through with a sacrifice fly to win it.

The Swarm had jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the top of the first then plated five more runs in the second.

The Hitmen got things going in the home second. With two down, Buck and Pennington worked walks and Harp was plunked by a delivery to load the bases. Green followed with a two-run single.

Heil, the third pitcher for the Hitmen, retired Sheridan in order in the top of the third and, in the bottom half, they chopped the lead to one. This time, Stroud instigated the offensive outburst with a double. Thompson walked then hits by Wright and Heil followed. Kemp reached on an error and, with one out Pennington was hit by a pitch and Harp singled in the final run of the frame, making it 7-6.

Both teams added a run in the fourth. For the Hitmen, Wright drew a two-out walk and moved into scoring position when Heil drew a free pass. Wright eventually scored to make it 8-7.

The Swarm made a bid to increase the lead in the top of the fifth, loading the bases with two down but Heil got the final out on a grounder to second, setting up the game-winning rally in the bottom half.

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