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 Lansing 10U 2017 Schuyler County 10 Tourney ChampionsLeft to right: Front row (kneeling): Carter Watts, Tyler Smith, Trent Thibault; Second row: Henrik Axelson, Korbin Lovejoy, Avery Wells, Conner Collins, Jordan Sidle; Third row: Assistant Coach Anders Axelson, Dominick Smith, William Stallone, Coach Stephen Smith; Back row: Coaches Matt Sidle and Gus Axelson

The Lansing 10U baseball team won a couple of nail-biter, 1-run games to take first place in a Schuyler County tournament on Saturday July 29 at Watkins Glen.

In the first game, Lansing faced a Cortland Crown City team with Jordan Sidle starting on the mound for the Bobcats. Sidle masterfully worked 4 innings in the start and pitched all the way up to his maximum-allowable pitch count, yielding only 2 runs while tallying 8 strikeouts. But the Bobcat bats were slow to wake up until the bottom of the 4th inning, when Avery Wells and Jordan Sidle singled to put baserunners on, and then William Stallone and Henrik Axelson singled to drive in runs and tie the game at 2-2 heading into the 5th inning.

Cortland put up a run on pitcher Henrik Axelson in the top of the 5th, who came on in relief for Lansing and got out of a bases-loaded jam by striking out the side. Then Lansing pushed 2 runs across in the bottom half on some speedy baserunning by Carter Watts and Conner Collins, both of whom reached on walks and then stole second and third bases and scored on passed balls.

Things looked grim for Lansing in the 6th, though, as the top of Cortland's batting line-up exploded for 3 runs to take a 6-4 lead. Lansing relief pitcher William Stallone came in to retire three Cortland batters in a row to staunch the bleeding. Then the Bobcats tied it up in the bottom of the 6th, with William Stallone singling and Dom Smith singling to bring in 2 runs and put the game into extra innings.

Again, the game seemed lost for Lansing in the top of the 7th when the lead-off hitter for Cortland drove in 3 runs on a bases-loaded single. Reliever William Stallone, who had been firing strikes all day, again kept his cool and recorded 2 more strikeouts to retire Crown City. But the game headed into the bottom of the 7th with Cortland leading 9-6—their biggest lead of the game.

These Bobcats never say die, though. Tyler Smith worked a walk to lead off the bottom of the 7th, Conner Collins worked another walk, and then Korbin Lovejoy came up with a big base hit to score a run and make it 9-7. Jordan Sidle then drove in 2 more runs on another single to knot the game at 9 and raise the prospect of even more extra innings.

William Stallone wasn't having it, however, as he delivered with a clutch single to drive in the winning run from 3rd base. Game over—a 10-9 win for Lansing and a ticket to the championship game against Watkins Glen.

Avery Wells was the starting pitcher for the Bobcats in the trophy game, and he likewise delivered a masterpiece over 3 1/3 innings, tallying 8 strikeouts. Lansing second baseman Carter Watts helped Wells' cause with a great play to throw out a Watkins Glen baserunner at home in the 2nd inning.

Meanwhile, the Lansing bats were much livelier early in this game, with Korbin Lovejoy singling in the 1st inning as the lead-off batter, Jordan Sidle following with another single, William Stallone keeping the conga line moving with yet another single to drive in a run, and Henrik Axelson capping off a 2-run inning with another knock to drive in Sidle.

In Lansing's bottom half of the 2nd inning, Jordan Sidle delivered with a big triple to left field to drive in Tyler Smith and Trent Thibault—two Lansing 9U players who were called up to the 10U team for this tournament and reached base on walks. In Lansing's half of the 3rd inning, Conner Collins led off with a double to right field and Trent Thibault stepped up to grind out an infield single that pushed Collins across the plate.

Again, though, the Bobcats found themselves in a dogfight, with the game tied at 6 heading into the 4th inning. Every time Lansing scored, it seems Watkins Glen had an answer. In the top of the 4th, starting pitcher Avery Wells finished with a flourish by recording a strikeout before he had to leave the game only because of his pitch count. Relief pitcher Henrik Axelson came in and struck out two more to retire the side. In the top of the 5th inning, Watkins Glen mounted a threat with two singles to put runner at 2nd and 3rd base. But Lansing pitcher Henrik Axelson struck out the next batter, and then Lansing 2nd baseman Korbin Lovejoy made a clutch play on a ground ball, firing home to catcher Conner Collins to gun down the Watkins Glen runner and keep the game tied. Henrik Axelson then struck out the next batter to end the threat and keep the score at 6-6.

In the Bobcats' bottom half of the 5th, speedster Conner Collins singled to get on base and then stole 2nd and 3rd base. Then Lansing's Dom Smith reached based for the third time in the game, putting the Watkins Glen pitcher in a pressure situation. On the next batter, a pitch slid by the Watkins Glen catcher, and Collins sped home to put Lansing up 7-6.

Henrik Axelson stayed in the game to pitch the top of the 6th, and he delivered by striking out the side 1-2-3 to put an exclamation point on the Bobcats' 7-6 victory. After the game, the Bobcats were presented with a trophy to bring home to the Lansing Parks and Recreation Department.

"Our emphasis all year has been to play as a team, not a bunch of individuals. To be there to pick up your teammates," said coach Gus Axelson. "And we did that all day, with our fielders makings plays if our pitchers allowed baserunners, and our batters continually contributing by advancing baserunners and doing whatever it takes to drive in a run.

"This was a complete team effort. Every player on our roster contributed to both of our wins. These boys have been diligent and dedicated and focused all summer, and they earned this tournament win through their hard work."

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