The CDO Little League 10-11 Baseball All-Stars won the state championship last week, beating Ahwatukee 16-11.
CDO jumped out to a 4-0 lead, thanks in part to a Dominic Felix two-run home run in the second inning, but was up just 4-2 heading into the pivotal third inning.
After plating two in the first, host CDO added two more in the second. Konnor Hopton drew a lead-off walk and after back-to-back strike outs Felix hit a towering shot to right field that just got over the fielder’s glove and the fence.
Ahwatukee came back in the bottom of the second with a Dylan McKee leadoff home
run and an RBI double by T.J. Oster that plated Dean Bittner.
CDO stormed back and used a seven-run third inning to push the lead to nine. The long ball was again a factor. Dante Schindler led off the inning with a rocket to left field and two batters later Mac Kochanski added a two-run shot.
“We got a lot of runs that inning,” Kochanski said. “The home runs really put us through to win the game.”
Hopton scored later in the inning on a bases loaded walk by Felix, and both he and Hayden Palmer would score on Jayden Bracy’s bases loaded single to left.
Ahwatukee answered with four runs in the bottom of the third, but CDO had three runs in the fourth, courtesy of a Jayden Bracy three-run homer.
“I just let it and it felt good to give us a better chance at winning,” said Bracy, who teammates have taken to calling “Beast Bracy”.
Bracy knew the minute he made contact that the deep shot to left was out of the park.
“I was very confident at the plate and my dad tells me it is important to be confident,” Bracy said.
Ahwatukee was undaunted. They got a three-run home run of their own, part of a four-run fifth.
Up 15-10, CDO tacked on another run on a Jared Aykroyd RBI single. After the first two Ahwatukee batters reached in the bottom of the sixth thanks to a lead-off homer and a walk, Aykroyd got the call to try and close out the game. He got three quick outs, including a high pop fly in front of the plate that he fielded. Although pitchers are not supposed to field that ball, Aykroyd had also caught earlier in the game and those instincts took over.
“It feels very, very good,” Aykroyd said of the win.
CDO’s Hayden Palmer pitched into the third. He was strong the first two innings, but seemed to start to tire in the third. Palmer had been one of the team’s workhorses over the summer. He struck out five batters in 2 2/3 innings and got the win for CDO. He was relieved by Hopton, who was also strong for over two innings.
“I was a little nervous at first,” Palmer said of getting the championship game start. “At the same time you just have to go out there and pitch. I am just happy to win state.”
CDO went undefeated in both the Regional 5 and State tournaments, but this is the end of the line for the team. There is no national or even regional tournament. The players can just relish in a perfect postseason run and, as Palmer noted, “get ready for school in a couple of weeks.”