For the first time in about a decade, Destin Little League baseball will be represented at the State of Florida Championships for 8-10 Baseball.
The Destin U10 All Stars beat Chaires Capitola in the best two out of three over the weekend for the Section 1 title and a berth in the state tournament to be held at Viera Regional Park in Melbourne beginning Friday.
Destin is just one of eight teams from throughout the state to compete in the three-day tournament that wraps up with the championship game slated for 10 a.m. Sunday.
The Destin All Stars take the field Friday at 8 p.m. in the first round of Pool Play.
In the meantime, Destin is spending their time on their home field at Dalton Threadgill Little League Park getting ready for the big event.
“We’re just keeping it the same,” said Destin Coach Doug Elrich.
The All Stars hit the practice field Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday before traveling on Thursday to Melbourne.
“We don’t want to let off the gas … we’re going to work hard and keep pushing through,” Elrich said.
Besides the team’s hard work ethic, coach said the team plays as a team.
“They have a lot of heart. They work hard from play one to the end. There desire to win is second to none,” Elrich said.
At the Section Tournament in Fort Braden against Chaires Capitola, Destin won the first contest hands down 6-1.
Fisher Baltzell pitched the first five innings, giving up only two hits. Braxton Beard finished up in the last inning.
Baltzell, 10, said his best pitch is his circle change up.
Standing on the mound and peaking over the top of his glove, “I count to three and take my time,” Baltzell said before firing the pitch.
The score was 1-1 at the end of three innings, and then Destin opened it up in the fourth with five runs.
In Game Two, Destin came up short 11-10. Christian Phillips-Cox started on the mound for Destin and pitched a no-hitter through three innings. At the end of five innings, the game was tied at 6-6.
Destin scored four runs in the top of the sixth, and then gave up five in the bottom half, walking in the winning run.
In Game Three, Destin started strong and finished strong for a 14-8 win and the championship.
Destin started early with James Boykin clearing the bases with a double in the first inning for a 3-0 start.
But before stepping into the batter’s box Boykin readies himself.
“I get confident and pray to God … and then I drive the ball,” Boykin said.
And as for the big double on Sunday, “It felt good … all the fans were cheering,” he said.
In the second, Destin picked up another run and had one called out due to an interference call. Destin led 4-2.
In the third, Destin struggled and gave up five runs.
“But they never panicked. We still felt like we were in control,” Elrich said.
Destin came back and scored six runs in the fourth and then one in the fifth.
Destin finished up with a 14-8 win behind the pitching of Braxton Beard and Jordan Figueroa.
“Everybody hit and got on base at some point in the tournament,” Elrich said.
Top batter for the three days was Christian Phillips-Cox, who went eight-for-10.
The key to his success, “I get comfortable in my batting stance,” said the 10-year-old Cox.
He said he doesn’t look for any particular pitch.
However, Cox did say, “I’m looking for a W” at state.