Pony All-Stars eliminated after 11-9 loss

* Previous coverage: God, or something else, lifts Pony All-Stars to win

By Kevin Spradlin

Even God took a day off.

It was mentioned Friday after the Rockingham Pony All-Stars coach Jeff Ingram led the team in a pre-game prayer, then went out and throttled High Point, that God might be a baseball fan.

PonyBut everyone gets a day of rest, and though Rockingham hit and pitched well — and played solid defense for six out of seven innings — it wasn’t enough, as the All-Star squad of 14-year-olds fell to Southampton-Sussex (Va.), 11-9, on Saturday in the Pony League East Zone South Region tournament at McEver Field in Huntersville. It was the team’s second loss in the double-elimination tournament.

“They brought the bats with ’em,” said coach Robbie Allen of a team that isn’t known for its hitting. “They just come up a little short.”

The Rockingham All-Stars finish 13-4 in tournament play. All four losses were by two runs or less.

“We can’t ask for no more competitive baseball than these guys played,” Allen said.

They almost earned the right to a second game Saturday. Rockingham took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning. Justin Ingram slapped a triple and Chase Puckett skycraped a long fly ball to right field that was caught, but it was deep enough to score Ingram from third.

But Southampton-Sussex scored three in the top of the second inning and four in an error-plagued fourth that countered Rockingham’s offensive efforts. Three of the four runs scored were unearned.

“We were throwing the ball around,” Allen said. “We had a ball that was thrown into centerfield (and the other team’s base runners) running around.”

Cameron Carraway launched a three-run home run in the bottom of the fifth to pull Rockingham within 10-9, but Southampton-Sussex added an insurance run in the top of the seventh to clinch the win and move on in tourney play.

Ingram finished 3-for-4 with a triple and double for Rockingham. Along with Carraway’s homer, Alex Anderson added two hits while Drew Loving and Nolan Allen added one hit apiece.

Ingram started the game on the mound and lasted 2 2/3 innings. He struck out three and gave up six runs — including three unearned runs in the fourth. Loving finished the game in relief and struck out seven over 4 1/3 innings.

Even with 10 strikeouts combined, coach Robbie Allen said the home plate umpire’s seemingly small strike zone “made it tough on the kids” — for both teams.

Regardless, the kids were holding their heads high after a successful All-Star season.

“These kids, they played their hearts out,” Allen said. “It’s been a great three weeks. Richmond Senior High School has a lot to look forward to.”



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