The local Little League season was winding down just as the temperature was going up… and the final rounds made for some hot action on the local ball diamonds.

After four days of early-round sandlot action, the championship matchups for the minor and major leagues. In last night’s (Monday) 9/10-year-old title game, the unbeaten and top-ranked Blue Jays took the field against the Devil Rays. In the nightcap, the 11/12-year-old Cubs and Mets squared off in the final.

In last Thursday’s first-round in the minor division, the Brewers battled past the Orioles, 7-3. In Saturday’s first game, the Marlins earned a date versus the Blue Jays with a 12-8 decision over the Reds. In the minor league semifinals, the Devil Rays beat the Brewers, 11-7, and the ‘Jays stayed perfect with a hard-fought 8-6 victory over the fish.

In the major league opener, the Devil Rays held off the Rangers, 8-3, on Wednesday. The Cubs survived the Rays in a 9-8 semifinal thriller on Friday followed by the Mets’ 9-3 win over the Braves.

The Mets cracked eight hits in their win and jumped up quick with four runs in the first inning. Spencer Griggs and Alex Cecil each had two hits in the survive-and-advance win. Sebastian Taylor, Brandon Hutchinson, Lucas Helton and Justin VanHoose each finished with one hit. For the Braves, Michael Taylor, Jacob Little and David Sachs each had hits.

The Mets’ pitching tandem of Alex Cecil and Sebastian Taylor struck out an amazing 13 batters in the win. The coaching staff also praised the defense.

“Sebastian and Alex really pitched well and the defense keeps improving – we made some big plays,’ Coach Bruce Cecil told The Morehead News.

“Justin VanHoose made a remarkable throw from right field to get out a runner trying to stretch a single into a double – and we hit the ball real good, from top to bottom of the lineup. We would have had more hits, but the Braves defense is really good – they robbed us of several hits with very good stops.”

The unbeaten birds of the minor division had to withstand a last-inning rally in the 2-run win over the Marlins. The win stretched the ‘Jays win streak to 13-0, heading into last night’s final.

The Blue Jays’ scored five in the first then added one in the second and two more in the third and the early lead held up; but the fish warmed up as the thermostat inched past 90-degrees, scoring one in the second, three in the third then rallying for two in the bottom of the sixth.

Harley Ison had two hits for the Blue Jays. Nick (inside the park home run), Joseph and Tyler each had a hit in the win.

Dalton Jesse got the win from the mound for the birds, allowing just one run in 2 2/3 innings of work.

“We came out strong and put some quick runs on the board and our boys played solid the rest of the game,’ Blue Jays’ coach Jamey Jesse told the local media.

“The Marlins played hard and it was a very hard-fought game. Bobby Money and his coaching staff had their team ready and they have improved tremendously throughout the year – our kids are really looking forward to the championship game.”

In a pair of regular-season wins in the final week, the Cubs locked up the No. 1 seeding in the tournament with just one loss on the season. In that final stretch, the Cubs beat the Rangers, 11-4, and clipped the ‘Rays, 8-7.

Bryce McKinney struck out six and allowed just two walks in the win over the Rangers. Carson Plank cracked a double and a single and McKinney helped his cause with a triple. Ray White belted a double and Nate Brown boarded on a bunt base hit. Austin Lewis, Austin Wright, Garrett, Brandon and Aaron all had hits for the Rangers.

Justin Graham drilled a home run and had a double in the slim win over the Devil Rays. Plank, Nate Hanshaw and Dakota Ogden also had hits for the Cubs. Jordan Harper, Ryne Callahan and Eric Walker each had a hit for the ‘Rays. Graham also fanned a half-dozen in pitching the win and he gave up just one walk.

Read about the minor and major league championship games in Friday’s sports section of The Morehead News.

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