Pernell’s single gives 11U Diamondbacks tournament title

Published 12:00 am Monday, October 31, 2016

Larry Pernell smacked the first pitch he saw in the bottom of the sixth inning into right-centerfield, driving in the game-winning run to give the Double Play Diamondbacks the tournament title in the 12-and-under Division at the Concordia Recreational Complex Sunday.

“I just tried to make contact and hit the ball,” Pernell said. “I was just trying to give my team the victory. It was a good moment. It was perfect.”

The Diamondbacks, an 11U team, were playing up in competition in the tournament and defeated the 12U Diamondbacks.

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“This says a lot about these kids,” 11U Diamondbacks coach James King said. “Some of them have been playing together for the last five years. They went to state in all-stars in Dixie Youth, and it’s just a special group of kids.”

Pernell’s game-winning hit capped off a tension-filled title bout that was filled with twists, turns and drama to the very end.

The 11U Diamondbacks appeared poised to cruise to the title after leading 4-1 heading to the fifth inning. But a four-run rally in the top of the fifth gave the 12U Diamondbacks the advantage for the first time.

“We’ve been doing that all fall,” 12U Diamondbacks coach Daniel Grayson said. “They always wait to the last inning to decide to play ball.”

The 11U Diamondbacks responded with a rally of their own. Centerfielder Jamie Green walked with one out, then promptly stole second and third base — his fourth and fifth steals of the game. Green scored on Donovan Moore’s run-scoring single, sending the game into extra innings.

“It was a heck of an effort,” King said. “The guys fought back all weekend. We were down each game. Heck of a job.”

Extra innings was decided in a Texas Shootout format, where the bases were loaded and nobody out.

The 12U Diamondbacks got first crack, but weren’t able to push any runs across thanks to a highlight-reel play from Landon Furlow. The shortstop leapt off his feet to his right to snare a line drive, then scampered to second base to double off the runner and eliminate the scoring threat.

“That kid made a tremendous play,” Grayson said. “There’s a lot of big high school players that won’t make that play.”

King said Furlow’s play is one “you don’t see that often.”

“He’s a heck of a ball player,” King said. “It was awesome.”