LOWER SUSSEX, Del. — With the host team Delaware threatening to tie the game in the top of the seventh inning, District 9 pitcher Madalyne Martinez turned a good day into a great one.
Martinez struck out the final three Delaware batters, stranding a host team runner at first base and lifting the District 9 All Stars to a 7-5 victory and the Senior League World Series championship on Sunday afternoon.
When Martinez’s final pitch caught Delaware’s Kaylee Verosko looking at strike three, the Central Texas team rushed the circle to splash their water bottles and share victorious hugs. The District 9 team, made up of players from Robinson, Midway and surrounding leagues, lost in the championship game a year ago against Asia-Pacific, but they will leave Delaware with winning smiles this time around.
The start of Sunday’s championship game was delayed for almost two hours by a thunderstorm in the area. When it did start at about 2:45 Central Time, another lightning strike caused an additional 30-minute delay.
The Delaware team came out of the delay and immediately rallied for two runs in the top of the first inning.
“I was telling them, ‘Look girls, that team is dealing with the same stuff. This is the last game, we’ve got to find that energy,’” District 9 manager Chance Bacon said.
The District 9 All Stars came back to take the lead in the bottom of the third. Hannah Boettcher drilled a two-out single up the middle to score Beronica DeLosRios.
Kennedy Parker followed with a fly ball to center that was dropped, allowing Daniella Ramirez and Boettcher to score and give the Central Texas team a 3-2 edge.
District 9 added two runs to the lead in the bottom of the fourth as Ramirez and Boettcher were both hit by pitches with the bases loaded. Aubrey Garcia and Jordyne Reese scored to boost the lead to 5-2.
“I’m proud but I’m confident at the same time,” Bacon said. “We fell behind in the past. We’ve taken losses. But I just know they’re going to come out and play. I wasn’t worried.”
Delaware scored two runs in the top of the fifth to cut District 9’s lead to 5-4, but the Central Texas All Stars added a pair of insurance runs in the bottom of the sixth.
Kennedy Cox led off District 9’s half of the sixth with a single and scored on a grounder by Parker.
With one out, Hannah Sterriker hit a sacrifice fly to right field that brought in Boettcher from third for a 7-4 edge going into the seventh.
Delaware’s Kate Evick led off the top of the seventh with a home run to right-center. Jada Evans followed with a single as the host team built a rally.
Evans hit a walk-off home run to defeat District 9 in pool play on Tuesday.
But with the championship at stake, Martinez bested the Delaware lineup. The District 9 starting pitcher went the distance in the circle, striking out 10 and holding the host team to 5 runs on 11 hits.
“(Delaware has) been stroking the ball all week,” Bacon said. “It’s tough, but Maddie is just that fierce competitor. That’s what she does. She was just on it.”