After battling back to force a third game, the Destin All-Stars came up short 11-8 in the championship game to Chaires-Capitola in the Florida Section 1 8-10 year old Little League Baseball Tournament in DeFuniak Springs Sunday afternoon.
Over the weekend, Destin, representing District 1, played District 20 representative Chaires-Capitola in the best two out of three for a chance to play in the state tournament in Bradenton this weekend.
“We played a good team this weekend, but I felt like our boys really accepted the challenge and they fought relentlessly to the last pitch,” said Destin Coach Justin Ray. “We gave ourselves a chance to win, even though we came up short. The grit that they showed and the determination to keep the pressure on throughout the tournament is a testament to the character of this group. I am really proud of the run we made,” Ray said.
In the first game Saturday, Destin showed some of that grit even with a rain delay early on.
Down 8-1 at the end of two innings, the Destin All-Stars battled back to even the score in the top of the third.
In the fourth, Chaires edged ahead 11-9 and then put nine on the board in the bottom of the fifth for a 20-10 victory.
Top batters for Destin were Jordan Figueroa and Brody Ray, each with three hits. Charlie Frankfurt had two hits and three RBIs.
Game two was quite eventful, lasting 4 hours and 15 minutes and finishing up just before midnight with what looked like a football score with Destin on top 38-22.
Destin took the early lead this time 11-4 at the end of two innings.
In the third, Chaires erupted for 10 runs to up 14-11.
In the top of the fourth, Destin scored seven runs and then Chaires answered with seven in the bottom half for a 21-18 lead.
In the top of the fifth, the Destin All-Stars evened the score with three runs.
With the game deadlocked going in to the last inning, the Destin All-Stars rallied the bats and exploded for 17 runs.
Chaires scored one last run. Destin won 38-22.
Destin collected 21 hits in the win with Jace Cunningham leading the way with five hits and five RBIs. Figueroa had four hits and Ray connected for four hits and five RBIs. Vance Kirby knocked in four runs for the Destin All-Stars.
In game three, Destin kept the game close throughout but could never get on top.
In the first innings, Palmer Robbins started Destin off with a single and scored.
Chaires answered with three in the bottom half on three hits.
In the second, Destin picked up one more run. Kirby walked and eventually slipped in home on a passed ball.
Chaires extended the lead in the bottom half with four runs. Cayden Branch singled up the middle to bring in two runs. The other two runs scored on errors. Chaires led 7-2.
In the top of the third, Destin got two of the runs back. Koren Silver singled up the middle. Cunningham singled. Figueroa reached on an error and Carter Phillips running for Silver scored. Will Wortman grounded out and Cunningham slipped in home for a 7-4 game.
In the fourth, Destin failed to score and Chaires added one run.
Destin scored one in the top of the fifth. Silver walked and scored on a groundout by Figueroa.
Chaires answered in the bottom half with three runs for their biggest lead of the game, 11-5.
In the top of the sixth, Destin managed to score three runs before being shut down. Frankfurt doubled in an RBI.
For the game, Destin outhit Chaires nine to six. Destin was led by Cunningham with three hits. Frankfurt had two hits and Figueroa was good for two RBIs.
“These boys have learned a lot about themselves, each other and what great things they can accomplish together,” Coach Ray said.