BY JEREMY SCHNEIDER | MIRROR SPORTS — The Maumee 12-and-under district baseball team could be called the comeback kids with its habit of pounding out hits and racking up runs late in games.
After another late rally to beat Bellevue, 9-5, on Saturday, the team can lay claim to another name, too – district champs.
Maumee scored four runs in the sixth inning to break open a 5-5 tie and pitcher Brennan Martin made sure Bellevue wouldn’t rally with a dominating performance in relief to help his team win the Ohio District 7 title.
“They like to get our hearts going,” said Maumee coach Max Lunsford. “It’s a team that if they came out hitting like they know how, they would do fine. They come out a little conservative in hitting and they let that play out until the sixth inning and come back.”
Maumee also rallied late for a 10-6 win over Avon just one game earlier, with Martin also showing up big in relief.
“We found out he’s a pretty good closer,” Lunsford said of Martin. “He knows how to throw a pitch that they can hit and we have a good defense that can help him out.
“He comes out smiling, he was having fun. That’s hard to do for some kids. He came out there smiling like, ‘I’ve got this.’”
The team will next head to the state tournament in Englewood; the weeklong state tournament runs from this Saturday through July 22.
For Lunsford, winning the district title was in the cards. The coaches knew the potential coming up, so they made sure to keep the group together with workouts during the winter and offseason.
“We thought this was the best shot we’ve had in a while with the talent that we have,” Lunsford said. “Don’t get me wrong, I come to each game saying, ‘You never know,’ but the talent that we had coming into this, we knew it was our best shot in a while.”
Through four games, the team has four players batting .333 or better – Jackson Walter, Beau Harris, Dylan Pyle and Martin. On the mound, they’ve been relying upon Cam Zbydnowski, Harris and Martin.
Lunsford was quick to point out how important every player on the 12-person roster has been, however. The rest of the players are Phinnigan Reynolds, Alex Lunsford, Evan Black, Eddie Lutz, Landon Hess, Mac Lutz and Maddox Koepfer.
With states right around the corner, Coach Lunsford doesn’t believe he’ll have to refocus the players on the task at hand. While he understands the quality of competition will improve in the state bracket, he knows his players will be ready for the challenge.
“The hope is to win states, but that’s a big step,” Lunsford said. “Every team that won districts goes to state, so it’ll be a tough road.
“We’re going to go and give it our best shot.”