Campbell dominates as VSLL Juniors win state championship
Members of the Viera-Suntree Little League All-Star Juniors baseball team pose with their state championship banner. The VSLL defeated North Springs 5-0 Sunday morning at Mitchell-Ellington Park on Merritt Island to claim the championship.
VIERA VOICE Carl Kotala
MERRITT ISLAND – Remember this moment.
That was the message Viera-Suntree Little League All-Stars Juniors baseball manager Jason Allen had for his team Sunday morning moments after the state championship game at Mitchell-Ellington Park on Merritt Island.
Remember this moment … because it’s special.
Luke Campbell threw a complete-game shutout, and for the second day in a row, Logan Keith came up with the go-ahead hit as the VSLL defeated North Springs 5-0 to claim the state title and book a trip to next month’s Southeast Regional.
“It’s huge for this group,” VSLL manager Jason Allen said. “They’ve been to the state tournament a couple of times. They’ve gotten beaten in sections a couple of times.
“For us to finally break through, I’m happy They deserve it. They deserve this win for sure. They’ve put a lot of a lot of time into this. There’s only one champion in the state of Florida, and that’s us today.
“That’s a special thing. I’m happy for these boys. I’m excited for them.”
Campbell was in control throughout his seven innings of work Sunday. The right-hander allowed just three hits while striking out six and walking none.
“I wasn’t really nervous because our team has been playing really good,” Campbell said. “We’ve been working hard. It worked out good.”
Of the 88 pitches Campbell threw Sunday, 61 were strikes. He appeared to have North Springs batters off-balance much of the day.
“I was trying to work in my curveball and throw it for strikes so they wouldn’t get locked in on my fastball,” he said.
The biggest threat Campbell and the VSLL faced came in the top of the fourth inning when North Springs strung together all three of its hits to load the bases with one out.
Campbell, however, would come back to strike out the next two batters and strand all three runners.
“He’s one determined individual,” Allen said of Campbell. “When he sets his mind to something, he’s hard to stop. He was ready to go today.”
Just as it did during Saturday’s dramatic win over Palma Ceia, the VSLL used a big moment on the mound as momentum at the plate.
Campbell walked to lead off the bottom of the fourth and after Lucas Glendinning singled, Luc Iten walked to load the bases with no outs.
Logan Keith, who had the game-winning hit against Palma Ceia, came through again on Sunday by driving the ball over the head of the North Springs center fielder for a two-run double.
Pinch-hitter Cameron Simpkins lined a two-run single and suddenly, the VSLL had a 4-0 lead.
An inning later, Apollos Horrell walked, stole second and eventually scored on a Glendinning single to make it a 5-0 game.
That was more than enough for Campbell and this VSLL team, which had long thought it was state championship material as it came up through the various age groups, got to hold the championship banner.
“I’m really excited,” Keith said. “The (Majors) season didn’t go as we planned. But this season, I hope we go further than just states. States is awesome, though.”
As for how the team was able to overcome adversity – like during Saturday’s Pool B final when a number of mistakes led to Palma Ceia runs – Keith had a simple answer.
“I think we trust everyone on our team,” he said.
And now they’re state champions and headed to Broadway, Virginia for the Southeast Regional, which scheduled to take place Aug. 2-6.
And no matter what happens in the regionals players like Campbell; Horrell, Glandinning; Iten; Simpkins; Keith; Cole Smith; Dylan Jordan; Luke McDonough; Camden Wicker; Aaron Brand; Cameron Ruston; Blake Strode and Brycen Weeks will always have this moment.
“It feels great,” Campbell said. “We’ve been working a lot, working really hard.”