ATHENS — When you pitch, hit and play solid defense, you’ll win a lot of games.
Such has been the hallmark of the Athens Little League Minors All-stars, and on Thursday night, the squad did all three.
The result was an 8-3 win over Towanda and a District 15 championship.
Both teams played solid ball throughout, and each made some difficult plays in the field look easy.
Athens did score first by taking advantage of one of Towanda’s three errors to score a first-inning run. Sam Cheresnowsky was the beneficiary of the error and raced all the way to second. Cheresnowsky went to third on a Connor Davidson single and scored on an RBI ground out by Eli Hicks.
That 1-0 score remained on the scoreboard through the first three innings. In the meantime, Athens’ starting pitcher, Duncan Thetga, had allowed no hits with the two Towanda runners to reach base doing so on one of Athens’ two errors in the game and Thetga’s only walk of the game.
Athens opened the fourth with a runner on when Cartyr Cockroft reached on an error. Walks to Graham Wanck and Zach Fisher loaded the bases for Kamdyn Wheeler, who singled to center for an RBI. Cheresnowsky lined an RBI single to center and Davidson hit an RBI grounder that erased Cheresnowsky. Two batters later, Thetga aided his cause with an RBI single to center for a 5-0 lead.
Curtis Maynard lined a one-out single in the fourth for Towanda’s first base hit of the game, but no runs resulted.
Athens added a run in the fifth on a leadoff single by Brycen Wood who went to second on the throw. Wood went to third on a fly out and scored on a fielder’s choice off the bat of Lucas Schultz who reached base on the throw home.
Athens closed out its scoring with two runs in the top of the sixth. Hicks worked a one-out walk and Alex McQuay was hit by a pitch and Cockroft loaded the bases with a single. Wanck walked home one run and the other came on an RBI single by Schultz.
As had been the case for Athens, Towanda, had some hard-hit balls early in the game, but the visitors didn’t crack the scoreboard until the bottom of the sixth. Gage Evans and Huntley “Boom” Thompson opened the inning with base hits. After an out, an error off the bat of Maynard sent both baserunners home. Maynard made his way to third. Later in the inning, Brad DiArpillo singled to short with Maynard scoring on the throw.
The final out came via strikeout, and the celebration began for the Athens squad.
Athens rapped out 11 hits in the win with production coming throughout the lineup. Athens was led by two singles each by Wheeler, Thetga and Cockroft. Wheeler added a run and an RBI; Thetga had a RBI and Cockroft scored a run. Schultz added a single and two RBIs; Hicks and Cheresnowsky each had a single, a run and one RBI; Davidson had a single and an RBI; Wood had a single and a run; Wanck had a run and one RBI; and McQuay joined Fisher with a run each.
Thetga went 5 2/3 innings on the hill allowing three hits and three unearned runs with five strikeouts. Hicks allowed one hit, but got the final out with a game-ending strikeout.
Maynard led Towanda at the plate with a single, a run and two RBIs. Evans and Thompson had a single and a run each, and DiArpillo had a single and an RBI.
Welles started on the mound for Towanda and allowed six hits, four walks and five runs — of which three were earned — with two strikeouts in 3 1/3 innings. DiArpillo got the only batter he faced out, then Reese Sluyter finished up by allowing four hits, two walks and three earned runs in 2 1/3 innings.
Athens travels to the Section III Championships which run from Tuesday, July 16 through Saturday, July 20 in Tremont, Pa (District 13).