In fact, it hadn't happened at all this

By Tom Hardesty Record-Courier staff writer Published:

In fact, it hadn't happened at all this entire season until Tuesday's Ohio Amateur Baseball Association Junior Division State Championship game at Kramer Fields in Kent.

Nags Skate House was on the short end of a 6-1 count after the top of the third inning, and the Streetsboro Eagles seemed on the verge of forcing a deciding game today.

"I was real worried," admitted Kent manager Rick Scharlotte. "I was terribly worried."

But his players weren't.

Kent responded in a big way in the bottom of the third, striking for seven runs to lead for the first time, 8-6. And they used that momentum to post a 17-7 victory in five innings to win the Junior Division state title.

Kent finishes the season with a perfect 20-0 record, while Streetsboro concludes with a 15-7 mark.

"We're not used to that," said Scharlotte of his team's early five-run hole. "That was the biggest deficit we've ever been in. We started flat, but we came back. This team has always been able to come back.

"It was a case of nervousness and we were just flat at the beginning. We were tight. But as a group we started hitting ... The whole thing with little league is you have to put the ball in play. You can't strike out."

Streetsboro coach John Brunnett knew his team's five-run lead wasn't safe.

"They know they've got to play seven innings of ball," said Brunnett, whose club fell to Kent 11-1 earlier in the tournament. "We fell apart. But we had a real good season. This was the farthest we've ever gotten in any tournament."

Streetsboro jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead in the first inning on Tony Miller's two-out, two-run blast over the right-field fence, his fourth homer of the season. Miller was also the losing pitcher, striking out four, walking five and allowing four hits before exiting in the third inning.

Kent got on the board in the second on Joseph Taylor's infield single that scored Charlie Owen. Taylor also got the win on the mound, coming on in relief of starter David Scharlotte in the third and striking out two, walking three and allowing just two hits.

Streetsboro then pushed the lead to 6-1 with four runs in the third.

Chris Godley scored on an error on a ball hit by Miller, a bases-loaded walk by Kyle Teague forced home David Ridgeway, Thomas George's popout to second scored Johnny Brunnett, and Miller scored the final run of the inning when the catcher's throw to Taylor went into centerfield.

But Kent struck quickly and decisively in the bottom of the inning.

An error on a ball hit by David Scharlotte plated Nick Harris and Jared Gillespie to cut it to 6-3. Miller then appeared to be on his way to getting out of the inning without further damage when he struck out Taylor for the second out.

But Kent scored five more runs, thanks largely to three Streetsboro errors.

An infield single by Brian Rogers scored Owen, an error on a ball hit by Adam Fraley plated David Scharlotte and Rogers, a single by Colin Gentry and ensuing throwing error brought home Fraley, and an error on a ball hit by Harris scored Gentry for an 8-6 lead.

"I knew both teams were capable of scoring a lot of runs," said coach Brunnett, "or neither of us would have been this far in the tournament."

Streetsboro got a run back in the fourth on a bases-loaded walk by Miller that scored Godley, but Kent plated five more runs in the bottom of the inning to pad its lead.

A fielder's choice by David Scharlotte brought home Gillespie, Taylor's single to left scored Owen, Rogers' triple to deep right-center scored David Scharlotte and Taylor, and Fraley's groundout to second plated Rogers for a 13-7 cushion.

Kent ended matters with four more runs in the fifth to reach the 10-run mercy limit.

Gillespie got things rolling by smashing a two-run homer to dead center, and an error on a ball hit by Rogers scored Owen and David Scharlotte for the final 17-7 margin.

"I've been coaching a lot of these kids since T-ball," said coach Scharlotte, "so it's really nice to end F league in this fashion. This is really a new team. A lot of teams broke up last year, and in the draft this year I was fortunate to get a lot of good players.

"These kids really play smart ball. But not only are they good athletes and good ball players, they're just a really good group of kids."

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