By Tim Chambers
JOHNSON CITY—A caterpillar start had a butterfly ending for Johnson County’s 10-11-year-old All-Star team. They rallied from a 3-0 deficit to knock off Bristol 5-3 on Thursday night at the Johnson City American Little League Field.
Johnson County manager Kevin Icenhour was all smiles after the contest. He praised his squad for never giving up.
“It took a few kids making plays to get us going,” said Icenhour. “We were nervous and a little rattled, but kids like Connor Simcox and Peyton Pavusek stepped up on the mound and at the plate. Ezra Howard got a huge hit and then all of a sudden we got the momentum. Nate King made a diving catch in the outfield and Sam Sweeker had a big one in left. Graham Reece played well behind the plate, all the kids did. They got down but never quit. I am very proud of them.”
Peyton Pavusek had the go-ahead base hit, a two-run single in the fifth inning. Ezra Howard belted an RBI double to give Johnson County some insurance going into the top of the sixth.
Connor Simcox pitched 4 1/3 innings for Johnson County allowing only three hits. All of Bristol’s runs were unearned.
Pavusek came on in relief of Simcox in the fourth to earn the win on the mound. Dakota Holt recorded the final two outs to get the save.
Simcox struck out a pair of batters with runners on in the first to end one Bristol rally.
Johnson County committed two costly errors in the second inning that allowed Bristol to score another run, but Simcox would recover nicely and nail the door shut from that point.
The burley right-hander allowed an infield single over the next 2 1/3 innings but had to leave the game due to exceeding the 75-rule pitch count for age 10.
“We played pretty good defense and didn’t allow them to score a whole lot of runs,” said Simcox. “We were frustrated because we couldn’t score, but then we got two and things got better. I wish I hadn’t run out of pitches. I felt pretty good on the mound.”
Pavusek came on and pitched well into the sixth inning.
The defense came up with a few gems over the course of the game.
Graham Reece made a hustle play behind the plate to throw out a runner trying to score on a wild pitch. Nate King had a pair of spectacular grabs in the outfield including a diving catch in the fourth that saved two runs. Sam Sweeker had a nice catch in left.
Johnson County grabbed the momentum by scoring a pair of runs in the bottom half.
Pavusek singled and would later score. George Grill drove Simcox home who had walked with a groundout to pull them close at 3-2.
Bristol threatened to put the game away in the fifth, but Grill snared a line drive and turned it into a double play to record the first two outs. Pavusek struck out the next batter to end the threat but he did one better at the plate that gave his team a 4-3 advantage.
His two-run single scored Dakota Holt who had reached on an infield hit and Isaiah Curd. “Hammering” Howard’s mammoth double brought home Pavusek with the final run.
“I was just looking for something to hit,” said Howard. “It felt good leaving the bat and it felt good to win. We can play better but played good enough to beat them.”
The Longhorns ended the game on a bizarre play in the sixth.
Pavusek struck out the first batter before giving way to Holt on the mound. His journey back to shortstop would be short lived.
Bristol had runners at first and second with one out when they hit a fly ball to short. The batter was called out due to the infield fly run, but Pavusek dropped the ball. He immediately picked it up and threw out the runner trying to take third base to end the game.
Pavusek led the hitting, going 2-for-3 with two RBIs. Holt and Howard had the other two hits.
“I was trying to keep my head in and hit it hard,” said Pavusek. “We all stayed up in the dugout and picked one another up. Nobody wanted to lose.”
Johnson City American 17
Johnson County 1
Johnson County took a lopsided loss on Saturday as they tried to save some pitching for Sunday’s contest. They were to play the loser of Bristol and Johnson City Nationals who lost to the Americans 22-4 on Friday.
Johnson County trailed 3-0 in the first inning and pulled Pavusek in order to save him for their next contest.
Graham Reece, Dakota Holt and Peyton Pavusek had two hits apiece for Johnson County. Holt drove in their only run.
Johnson County 1
The news wasn’t good on Saturday as Bristol got revenge with a 6-1 victory, bouncing Johnson County from the District 10-11 Little League All-Star tournament.
The “bean ball” was a huge factor in this one. Five Bristol runners reached base after getting hit by a pitch and then scored.
Johnson County played good with the gloves but couldn’t muster the runs needed to reach the championship game.
Peyton Pavusek and Graham Reece stood tall at the plate for Johnson County. Pavusek was 3-for-3 including a double off the fence. Reece was 3-for-4 and made a couple of good defensive plays. George Grill was 1-for-3 and scored the lone run on a passed ball. Will Courtner was 1-for-3.
Dakota Holt pitched well before leaving the game due to exceeding the 75 pitch count. Pavusek tossed two scoreless innings.