RISING SUN— After two scoreless innings, Elkton’s Luke Crowl stepped up to the plate with one on and no outs and an opportunity to break a tie against Rising Sun in the District 5 Major Baseball Championship game Monday night.
Crowl came through, blasting a two-run home run to give his team the lead and jump-start a six-run rally. Combined with Jamie LaManna’s strong effort on the mound, Elkton earned a 7-0 victory over Rising Sun and captured the state championship at Rising Sun Little League.
“It was my pitch, and I just saw it and hit it good. I just watched it,” Crowl said of his third-inning round-tripper. “It just went out slowly and traveled a lot. I was just in the moment.”
Trey Kuhl led off the decisive third inning with a walk, and Crowl followed by launching an opposite field homer to break the scoreless tie. LaManna then drove in the third run of the frame with an RBI single, while Will Davis plated a pair with a single to center.
Davis then crossed the plate on a wild pitch.
Elkton manager James LaManna labeled Crowl’s homer “the spark” that changed the game’s momentum.
“I think it was huge,” he said. “I think we were getting really good swings the first time through the lineup, [but] we started to make better contact the second time through the lineup, and I think that home run gave us a lot of confidence and broke the game open. For him to go opposite field with the Little League bats was just incredible.”
Elkton added an insurance run the bottom of the fifth when Justin McMillian scored on Jarred Pittsley’s single.
The seven runs were plenty of support for Jamie LaManna, who threw a complete-game shutout, allowing five hits, walking one and striking out seven.
“I just had to pitch strikes. I knew I had a good defense behind me. I just feel like I had to pitch strikes and have my defense back me up, and that’s what they did,” the pitcher said. “My fastball was effective.”
After LaManna struck out the final Rising Sun batter in the top of the sixth inning to secure the district title, Elkton gathered around the pitcher’s mound to celebrate the championship.
The victory delivers Elkton a spot in the state tournament that begins this Saturday in Frederick. It came one day after Elkton forced an “if game” with a 17-2, three-inning victory over Rising Sun on Sunday.
“The goal was to win this tournament and get to states, and just to play well. We preach good pitching and defense, and adding hitting to that is the combination for victory,” James LaManna said. “You can see through the tournament that we gave up either 0, one or two runs every game. The difference was when we started to swing the bats, we became a very difficult team to beat.”
“It feels really good. It feels really great,” Crowl added. “I can’t wait to go to states.”
Elkton 17, Rising Sun 2 (3 innings)
Jeremy Ruth launched a first-inning, two-run home run to right field to open the scoring. After Rising Sun bounced back with a pair of runs in the second inning, Elkton exploded for 14 runs in the bottom of the second and three more in the third to force an “if game” the following evening.
“I was just trying to hit the ball, get on base and score some runs,” Ruth said of his first-inning homer. “I just hit it pretty good, and I hit it pretty hard.”