The Gillette Nationals Little League minor all-stars wasted no time jumping out to an early lead and ultimately dominating their pool play game against Platte County on Wednesday night.
Gillette’s all-star baseball team came away with a 13-3 victory to finish 1-1 in pool play in the Eastern District Little League Tournament.
Essentially, the Nationals executed coach Chris Rhodes’ plan to perfection.
“I told them, ‘forget yesterday, let’s hit the reset button,’” Rhodes said.
The Nationals pulled out to a 3-0 advantage after back-to-back doubles from Warren Carr and Kaleb Lewis.
Gillette created several degrees of separation in the top of the fourth inning, taking advantage of a series of walks and hits to go up 10-1.
The all-stars rode pitcher Sage Grey, who took the mound in the bottom of the second inning, threw for three innings and got plenty of support from his defense.
Grey, 10, gave up just one run and pitched his way out of a jam with the bases loaded in the second frame.
“It felt pretty good,” he said of the relief performance. “I just did my best and I tried to throw strikes.”
A short memory proved to be an effective tool for the home team, which fell 23-9 against Sheridan on Tuesday. The defense stepped up in a big way to keep Gillette in control from start to finish against Platte County.
Sometimes desperation can be an effective driver too. Another loss would have eliminated Gillette from tournament play.
“We did a lot of good things,” said Cole Swisher, 10, who helped his team with an RBI double in the top of the fourth. “We made a double play and then we started hitting good balls.”
As an added bonus, the Nationals will have its top pitchers — who were ineligible Wednesday because of high pitch counts — back in the rotation when faces Laramie at 4 p.m. Thursday in a semifinal.
“If they’re going to beat us, they’re going to beat us with our big guns,” Rhodes said.
Laramie went 3-0 to win Pool A. Regardless, the winner of the Laramie-Gillette Nationals game will advance to the championship at 3 p.m. Friday.
“It’ll be a tough game and I told them, ‘fundamentals start with F-U-N,’” Rhodes said.
The Gillette Americans minor all-stars defeated Newcastle 13-0 Wednesday to finish pool play with a 2-1 record.
“As a team, we hit the ball really well,” coach Brandon Preston said. “Our pitchers came in, threw strikes. Defensively we fielded really well.”
The all-stars finished second in Pool B and will face Sheridan at 7 p.m. Thursday in a semifinal game. The winner will advance to the title game Friday.