Galion broke out the big bats to remain unbeaten in the District 7 Little League Tournament.
Carter Keinath hit two home runs and Spencer Keller hit a solo shot to lead the Tigers (2-0 in the postseason) to a 12-2 victory over the Shelby All-Stars on Wednesday at Heise Park. The Tigers opened the tournament on Monday with a win over Lexington without Keinath in the lineup.
“Carter wasn’t here Monday night, so it was good to have him back,” said Galion head coach Jason McMullen. “He had a big night at the plate. Of our 12 kids, we’ve got 10 kids who’ve hit home runs this year, so anybody who’s up at the plate can hit one out anytime. That’s a big difference with our team compared to some of the others, is our depth. Our subs are probably top two or three players on any other team in this district. It’s nice when we make our rotations, because there’s really no let up in our batting lineup.”
Keinath finished 4-for-4 with six RBI and scored three runs. He ripped a pair of two-RBI singles to go along with the two homers. Keller went 1-for-3 with two RBI, scored a run and drew a walk.
Brody Symsick was 1-for-2 with a RBI and scored a run. Caden Armstrong went 1-for-3 with a RBI and scored one run. Owen Mullins and Matthew McMullen each scored twice. Carter Valentine and Owen Hatfield each had a hit and scored a run.
Troy Manring went 2-for-2. Wilson Frankhouse had one hit.
Mullins was the starting pitcher for Galion and picked up the win. He gave up two runs and held Shelby to just one hit. Mullins struck out seven batters, walked three and hit two Shelby batters.
Keinath came on in relief in the fourth and shut out Shelby in his two innings on the mound. He gave up two hits and recorded four strikeouts and only one walk.
“Owen got off to a little bit of a rough start, but he battled back,” McMullen said. “He’s a heck of a ball player. Carter came in and did a real good job. With Caden Armstrong, we’ve got three real big pitchers that throw hard and have real good off-speed stuff. They’ll definitely be our horses on the mound. Two of those are lefties (Keinath and Armstrong). It’s always nice when you can throw a couple of lefties.”
Blaine Bowman had two hits and Noah Rank added one basehit for Shelby. Lincoln Finnegan and Nathan Zehmer each scored a run.
Marshall Shepherd got the start for Shelby and was saddled with the loss. He worked just an inning and a third, but gave up six runs on three hits. Shepherd had two strikeouts and four walks. Bowman and Logan Green made relief appearances for Shelby.
After the pregame coin flip, Galion was designated the visiting team and had the first crack on offense. The Tigers wasted little time manufacturing runs in the opening inning. McMullen and Mullins each reached base on errors and Keinath opened his postseason account with a single that drove in two runs. He later scored on a passed ball to give Galion a 3-0 lead.
In Shelby’s first at-bat, Mullins walked Finnegan and Bowman, and Finnegan scored on a passed ball to cut the deficit to 3-1. Mullins pitched out of the tight spot, striking out two of the last three batters he faced.
Hatfield led off the second inning with a basehit and Armstrong drew a walk to give the Tigers two baserunners. Keinath slapped another two-run single through the right side of the infield to increase the Galion lead to 5-1. Keller’s sacrifice fly to centerfield allowed McMullen to score and gave the Tigers a 6-1 cushion.
The second inning opened in similar fashion to the first for Shelby as Mullins hit Zehmer and walked Nicholas Beckman. Zehmer stole second and advanced to third on an error, then scored on a passed ball to trim the gap to 6-2. That would be all the offense Shelby would muster for the remainder of the game. Mullins struck out three of the final four batters he faced in the second to end the offensive threat.
Galion pushed two more runs across home plate in the third inning to run the lead to 8-2. Valentine led off with a single and Symsick followed with a double to drive in Valentine. Symsick later scored on a basehit by Armstrong.
Mullins blanked Shelby in his final inning on the mound, giving up a hit, but recording a strikeout and fielding two ground balls himself to close out the frame.
The Tigers power surge erupted in the fourth inning as Keinath crushed a shot over the centerfield fence that cleared the concession stand. Keller followed with a blast to center that upped the Galion lead to 10-2.
Keinath struck out the first Shelby batter he faced in the bottom of the fourth, but gave up a hit to Rank. The Galion defense took over as McMullen and Frankhouse combined on a double play to end the inning.
The Tigers effectively ended the game in the top of the fifth inning after Mullins walked and scored on an error and Keinath bashed his second round-tripper of the evening. The ball thumped against a light pole in right centerfield. That gave Galion a 12-2 lead.
Keinath struck out three of the five batters he faced in the fifth to close out the win for Galion.
The Tigers will play Fremont in the District 7 tournament semifinals on Sunday evening at Heise Park. First pitch is set for 6 p.m.