BELLEFONTE — The Bellefonte All-Stars saw one four-run lead disappear against Four Leaf in Saturday night’s District 5 Little League final.
Bellefonte pitcher Tyler Kreger made sure that it didn’t happen twice.
Bellefonte jumped out to a four-run lead after two innings, gave it all back to high-scoring Four Leaf in the third before scoring four in the fourth and another in the fifth to power its way to a 9-4 victory to capture the 11- and 12-year-old title.
Cade Fortney, Tanner Helms, and Kreger all had three hits for Bellefonte, with Fortney and Helms combining for five RBIs.
Kreger pitched a complete-game victory, giving up four runs on six hits, but after being spotted a four run lead early, he saw it disappear in a four-run rally by Four Leaf in the third inning.
His teammates gave him another four-run lead in the fourth, and this time there was no Four Leaf rally. Kreger shut out Four Leaf on two hits in the final three innings, leading his team to an undefeated record in district play and their second consecutive championship. Bellefonte advances to the Section 4 tournament, where it’ll meet teams from Districts 6, 7 and 11.
“I just had to get back to what I was doing before,” Kreger said, “and throw some strikes. I was just trying to get some outs there. I tried to take a couple deep breaths and get back to my original motion and just throw strikes.”
Bellefonte opened the scoring in the first when Fortney walked, Kreger singled, and Tanner Helms knocked an RBI single to score Fortney. Jarrett Horner then followed with a sacrifice fly that gave Bellefonte a 2-0 lead.
In the second, Bellefonte extended its lead when Jaymz McClelland was hit by a pitch, Kalen Shvenke singled and
Garrett Reiter reached on a fielder’s choice. Fortney then lined a two-run triple to right center to put Bellefonte ahead 4-0.
Four Leaf made all of that up in the top of the third. Luke McGonigal, Thane Morgan, and Ty Bender all hit RBI singles that, along with a walk and an error, resulted in four runs and a tie score going into the fourth inning.
“They (Four Leaf) battled back before,” Bellefonte coach Duane Grove said. “They are a good battling team. They play well together. I was concerned, but not real much.”
There was concern, however, among the Bellefonte faithful as Four Leaf pitcher Thane Morgan struck out the side in the bottom of the third, and the teams entered the fourth inning all square.
Bellefonte allayed those fears with another four runs in the bottom of the fourth. Shvenke led off the inning with a single and, after a pop-out, Cole Breon, Fortney, Kreger, and Helms followed with consecutive hits. Fortney, Kreger, and Helms all drove in runs and before the inning was over Bellefonte was back on top 8-4.
“I was just thinking about making contact with the ball,” Fortney said, “and keeping good form. Hits are kind of hits, it is just how hard you hit the ball and where you hit it.”
Bellefonte added another insurance run in the fifth when Kreger knocked another RBI single to make the score 9-4.
He then went out in the top of the sixth and retired Four Leaf in order to bring the title to Bellefonte.
“This feels really nice, actually,” Helms said. “We won it last year, and to come back and win it again this year — it always feels really nice to win. We didn’t get very far at sectionals last year, we won a couple games, but we are hoping to get further this year.”
“I think we can rowdy the crowd up a little at sectionals,” Kreger added, “and go make some noise.”