DOVER — A year ago, District I also drew Maryland in the first round of the Big League baseball East Regional.
The Kent County all-stars escaped with a two-run victory.
Well, District I did pretty much the same thing in the rematch on Saturday night, scoring three early runs and then hanging on for a 3-2 victory over Maryland in the opening round of the Big League East Regional at Dover Little League.
District I plays again on Monday at noon in the double-elimination, nine-team tournament. The host squad will face Connecticut, which topped Massachusetts, 9-2, in its opener on Saturday.
Relief pitcher A.J. Johnson of Dover shut out Maryland over the last three innings to preserve the one-run advantage he started with. Johnson retired all nine batters he faced, striking out five of the last six.
The Kent County all-stars got off to a quick start with a run in the top of the first inning.
After Milford’s Tommy Jordan reached base on a fielding error, Dover’s Kendall Small roped a hit over the second baseman’s head. The ball rolled into the gap for a double that scored Jordan for District I’s first run.
Then, in the second inning, Dover’s Adrian Hill drew a two-out walk. When centerfielder Dakota Graham, also from Dover, followed by smacking a two-run homerun over the right field fence, District I’s lead had grown to 3-0.
Maryland, though, got two runs back in the bottom of the third by stringing together a walk and two singles. The Waldorf, Md. squad also executed a nice squeeze bunt in the frame.
Camden-Wyoming’s Travis Dill pitched the first four innings for District I, The veteran left-hander surrendered two runs, three hits and struck out six before giving way to Johnson.
Maryland used four different pitchers, pulling each one after they threw about 45 pitches. That’s the pitch-count total that allows a player to pitch again after one day’s rest.
Sussex County’s District III, which was the lone team to receive a first-round bye, will face New Jersey today at noon. New Jersey beat defending champion Pennsylvania, 6-4, in its opener on Saturday. ... That contest is the first of four games slated for today at Dover. ... The District I-Md. game had a delay in the third after a foul ball off Tevin Thomas’ bat broke one of the field’s lights and glass fell into foul territory. ... District I is trying to reach the Big League World Series in Easley, S.C. for the first time since 2006.
Sports editor Andy Walter can be reached at 741-8227 or firstname.lastname@example.org.