Photo by Beau Bearden.
KINGMAN – The Kingman South 9-11 All Stars battled hard against Kingman North in the championship game of the District 9 tournament Thursday night but North won 11-1 in a game that was competitive till the end.
South fought hard to get back into the tournament after a 16-6 loss against Blythe in the first round. They beat Lake Havasu 20-6 in the first round of the elimination bracket, then beat Blythe in a rematch 25-15. The team was hoping to ride that momentum to the championship game, but came up short.
“Tough game,” manager Adam Thomason said. “First three innings were close then we played young after that unfortunately. This is a special group of kids and District 9 better look out because the championship is going to keep coming through Kingman.”
The game started quick with Gabe Torres hitting a single and Kingman North made a couple errors that allowed him to keep running. He ran into an out at home, and North pitcher Tayon Kite cleaned up the rest of the inning with two quick outs.
Defensively, South played better with Cody Schoppmann on the mound. North hit into two fly outs and a strikeout to end a quick first inning.
North scored two runs in the second, and South could not get on base against Kite. In the third inning, South finally scored a run when Austin Branch stole home narrowing the deficit, 2-1.
North changed the game in the bottom half of the third scoring nine runs, including two inside-the-park home runs. This flipped the momentum and South could not fight back.
In the fourth, South had two runners on base but could not bring them home. North took advantage and scored the last two runs of the game to win, 11-1.
Even with a loss, Thomason knows these children exceeded expectations and showed that despite all the youth, they still are competitive.
“We have eight minors kids on this team,” Thomason said. “We were right there and if they work hard this offseason and keep getting better, they are going to be a force.”
Thomason has seen improvement in the defense and offense from game one to the championship. The players settled down, started hitting harder and pitching better by the end.
“Even today they put some balls in play,” Thomason said. “You can see the difference though. That play that Cannon Cobanovich made doesn’t get made anywhere else, so hats off to that team. I hope they do great.”
Thomason was proud of his whole team's effort, but singled out Gabe Torres, Taelon Thomason and Cody Schoppmann. All three kept the team alive through the tournament with clutch pitching and hitting.
“Gabe and Taelon were unbelievable,” Thomason said. “Cody Schoppmann played in a lot of championship games this year and I don’t think that’s a coincidence. He refuses to lose.”
The team improved in a short all-star season, and Thomason wants them to keep working hard and use this experience as motivation to get better.
“I love these guys.” Thomason said. “I want them to get back here, and I know they will make a difference on whichever team they are on.”
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