CARY, N.C. – With the game-winning run at the plate and two outs in the bottom of the seventh, Midwest Stripes’ Kipton Allen induced a swinging strikeout to hold off Southeast Stars, 5-2, in the gold medal matchup of the 13U National Team Identification Series (NTIS) Champions Cup at the National Training Complex in Cary, North Carolina.
It marks the Midwest region’s first gold medal at the 13U level, and third overall top three finish at the event. Additionally, it is the Midwest region’s fourth gold medal in NTIS Champions Cup history.
HOW IT HAPPENED
- Midwest Stripes got off to a hot start, capitalizing on a couple of Southeast Stars errors to take a 3-0 lead in the first inning. Brady Rallo led off the game with a walk, and after Bennett Kono’s double to left field put runners in scoring position, a two-base error brought the runners home to make it 2-0. Then, with Kanon Baxley on second, a passed ball and error brought him across home plate to extend the Midwest Stripes lead to 3-0.
- Southeast Stars responded in the bottom frame thanks to Jayden Bibby’s 2-RBI double to left field, driving in Tre’ Lawrence and Cooper Parman after they reached on a walk and infield single, respectively, on two outs.
- After five scoreless innings, Midwest Stripes added insurance in the seventh with a pair of runs to take a 5-2 lead. Kono led off the inning with an infield single, stole second, and scored on Baxley’s hard-hit ball up the middle to bring the first run in. With Baxley at second after advancing to second on the throw in the previous play, he managed to steal third and then home to plate the other run of the frame.
- In the bottom half of the inning, Southeast Stars managed to load the bases up on a pair of walks and outfield single on two outs, bringing the game-winning run to the plate, but relief pitcher Allen induced a swinging strikeout to end the game.
- Midwest Stripes’ starting pitcher Ty Pohl earned the win after surrendering just two earned runs on three hits in 4.2 innings.
- Allen was credited with the save as he tossed two scoreless innings to close out the game.
- Kono led all players with a 2-for-4 outing, while Baxley and Bibby drove in two runs apiece for their respective teams. Nine other players tallied a hit in the contest.