Junior Bulldogs take Conference Championship with big win over Bucs

Published 2:39 pm Monday, April 29, 2024

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By Ron Marvel

Star Correspondent

A four-run deficit did not seem to faze the Hampton Junior Bulldogs as they rallied back to win the conference championship Friday night, defeating their opponent 14-4.

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In a wet and muddy game, the Bulldogs struggled on the mound in the first inning as the ball was wet and hard to grip. However, the Junior Bulldogs had an ace up their sleeve in the 6-foot-4-inch Colby Clark. Clark’s larger hands seemed to have little trouble gripping the ball, and he and the Bulldogs went into shut-down mode for the rest of the game, giving up just one hit and no runs with eleven strikeouts over five innings.

Down by four runs in the second inning, Memphis Nave and Eland Henson delivered back-to-back doubles, and Casey Gilbert laced a base hit to center to fuel a 2-run inning. After Clark retired the opposing team with three strikeouts, the Bulldogs tied the game in the bottom of the third. Preston Birchfield hit a bloop single over second base, plating two more runs and bringing the game to a 4-4 tie.

Clark once again struck out the side, setting up the Junior Bulldogs for a big six-run fourth inning. Isaiah Tilson started the inning with a single up the middle, followed by a Cash Royston triple. The Bulldogs then loaded the bases, bringing up Jackson Emerson, who hit a double to right field, plating three more runs. The Bulldogs picked up an additional run off Birchfield’s bat to push their lead to 13-4.

After another 1-2-3 inning for the opposing team, Colton Clawson came off the bench and hit a ball over second base for the Bulldog’s walk-off win. Post-game, Head Junior Bulldogs coach Travis Royston shared just how much his team has grown this year: “Tonight was wet, muddy, and nasty especially early on. We went through over thirty baseballs; Clark came in and executed with dominance as he always does. We have an awesome group of young men. They work hard every day and each day they get better. We started this journey last season, and no one had hopes of us winning a game. We were rough, to say the least! We kept working on the small things and ended up runners-up to University Middle School. We set a goal to be here in this spot again this year. We went undefeated in the conference, lost one game this season and were fortunate enough to get a second opportunity at a conference championship.”

The Junior Bulldogs will play pool play in a sectional tournament on Saturday at Ridgeview.