Horrell, Keith homers spark big comeback for VSLL Juniors

Win over Michigan puts local team in U.S. Final


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Members of the Viera-Suntree Little League Junior All-Star baseball team celebrated after they won the state championship. Well, after rallying past Michigan for a 13-9 victory at the Junior League Baseball World Series in Taylor Michigan Thursday night, the VSLL will play California in the U.S. Final Friday night

VIERA VOICE Carl Kotala

In the span of about 30 minutes or so, the emotions of anyone rooting for the Viera-Suntree Little League All-Stars at the Junior League Baseball World Series Thursday night probably went from …

“Oh, man …” To …

“Holy” … um … smokes, yeah, that’s right, “Holy Smokes!”

In a game that saw two teams combine for 14 runs in the sixth inning, the VSLL rallied past Michigan for a 13-9 victory to earn a spot in Friday night’s U.S. Final.

Florida will play the only team it has lost to all summer – California – at 6 p.m. at Heritage Park in Taylor, Michigan. The winner will go on to play for the World Series championship.

Leading 5-3 and just six outs shy of claiming victory, everything seemed to unravel for the VSLL as Michigan scored six runs on seven hits in the top of the sixth inning to jump ahead 9-5.

It looked like the Florida team’s hopes of getting to the U.S. title game were about to be dashed by the hometown team from Taylor, and in a big, heartbreaking way.

Then Cameron Simpkins walked on four pitches to lead off the bottom of the sixth. Dylan Jordan walked on four pitches, too. And after an infield out, Apollos Horrell launched a three-run home run that traveled 298 feet over the left-field fence to make it a 9-8 game.

OK … breathe …

With two outs, Luc Iten singled down the left-field line to bring up Logan Keith. And on a 2-1 pitch, Keith got hold of one and sent it 311 feet over the center-field fence for a two-run homer that put the VSLL back on top 10-9.

And they weren’t done.

Jordan had an RBI single and Cole Smith hit a two-run double and suddenly, the VSLL was up 13-9.

Lucas Glendinning, who started the game and left with one on and a 3-0 lead in the top of the second, came on in relief to get the win. He also had a hit, an RBI and scored a run.

Luc Iten had two hits – including a double -- scored two runs and drove in two for the VSLL. Keith had a double and a home run to drive in two. Luke McDonough had two hits and an RBI. Smith had two hits and two RBIs.

Brycen Weeks had an RBI, scored a run and also had a big performance on the mound, keeping Michigan in check through the middle innings.

Horrell scored twice in addition to his three-run homer. Cameron Ruston scored twice as well.

The VSLL also got a couple of nice plays in the field. Camden Wicker threw out a runner at home during Michigan’s big sixth inning. McDonough also made a nice stop on a drive up the first base line and made a heads-up play to throw out a Michigan runner trying to advance to third on a ground ball.

Friday’s U.S. Final will be preceded at 3 p.m. by the International Final which pits Puerto Rico against perennial favorite Chinese Taipei. Both games will be televised on ESPN+

The World Series championship game will be played on Sunday at noon and will be shown on ESPN2.