VSLL Juniors will play for state title after dramatic win
Cameron Ruston celebrates after scoring what would be the game-winning run for the Viera-Suntree Little League All-Star Junior baseball team on Saturday. The VSLL defeated Palma Ceia 3-2 in eight innings to advance to the state championship game.
VIERA VOICE Carl Kotala
MERRITT ISLAND – On a day filled with drama, it was the Viera-Suntree Little League All-Star Junior baseball team that got to celebrate a chance to play for the state championship.
Logan Keith’s RBI single up the first baseline in the top of the eighth inning gave the VSLL a 3-2 win over Palma Ceia Saturday afternoon in the final game of pool play at Mitchell Ellington Park on Merritt Island.
The win puts the VSLL into Sunday’s state title game at 10 a.m.
“Man, I’ll tell you what, that’s why you play baseball,” VSLL manager Jason Allen said after his team’s emotional win Saturday. “The boys just hung in there the whole time. I couldn’t be more proud of them. We battled all the way to the very end.”
While Keith’s hit proved to be the game-winner, there was some major drama just a half-inning earlier when Palma Ceia put runners on second and third with no outs in a 2-2 game in the bottom of the seventh.
VSLL pitcher Lucas Glendinning was able to get out of the jam with a strikeout, a pop-up and then another strikeout, not only preventing Palma Ciea from getting a walk-off victory, but also giving his team a big boost of momentum.
“That’s clutch right there for LG to buckle down and get out of that jam right there,” Allen said. “That was a big, big moment for us. … That fired us up. That’s what we needed to go into that next inning. We got a couple of big hits and here we are.”
The game certainly got off to a promising start for the VSLL as Cole Smith led things off by getting hit by a pitch, went to second when a fly ball by Apollos Horrell was dropped in center field and then took third on a single by Luke Campbell that loaded the bases with no outs.
Smith would score on a wild pitch, but that would be all the VSLL would get in that inning.
Trailing 1-0, Palma Ceia would get the tying run across in the bottom of the second with the help of a misplayed ball in the VSLL outfield, a wild pitch and an infield out.
The game would stay tied 1-1 until the top of the fifth inning when Smith was safe on short fly ball and Horrell smoked an RBI triple.
Once again, however, Palma Ceia was able to take advantage of a VSLL defensive miscue to tie the game at 2-2.
Horrell, who had a solid game on the mound and also made several nice defensive plays, gave way to Glendinning after six innings.
After Glendinning managed to get out of trouble in the bottom of the seventh, he came up in the top of the eighth and was safe when Palma Ceia couldn’t field his short fly ball.
Cameron Ruston came on to run for Glendinning and went to second on a single by Luc Iten. Keith then drove a ball just beyond the glove of a diving Palma Ceia first baseman and Ruston scored from second.
“These guys, over the last couple of years, have been in some big moments,” Allen said. “It’s kind of prepared them for this one. It’s good stuff.”
Earlier in the day, the VSLL defeated Palm Coast 9-3 behind the pitching efforts of Dylan Jordan, Cam Wicker and Cam Simpkins.
Smith had a double and scored two runs in that one. Campbell also had a double and scored two runs.