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Linden 12U team rolls over Sumter for district title

Linden will have representation at the state level after its 12U all-star team won the Cal Ripken District 10 Tournament Monday, downing Sumter 11-4 and 20-5 in the championship round.

“It’s huge,” Linden head coach Tim Collins said. “The last couple of years, we always get to where it looks like we can go to the next level and something happens. This doesn’t happen much for Linden teams.”

Linden appeared headed for a runaway victory in the second game of the night when Shade Pritchett blasted a double to open the contest. Two batters later David Dunn hit an RBI single to score Pritchett and give Linden a 1-0 lead. Dunn later came in to score on a Caleb Broadhead infield single. A throwing error by Sumter then allowed Landon Houlditch to cross the plate, moving the lead to 3-0.

However, Sumter asserted itself in the home half of the first when Clay Truelove sent a pitch deep into the Sports-Plex twilight for a two-run shot that also scored Cullen Bailey to cut the deficit to 3-2.

From there, Linden took over. Cason Cook led off the second with a single before coming around to score on a wild pitch. Hayden Barkley then walked before Pritchett singled. Dunn then stroked his second RBI single in as many innings, scoring Barkley to move the score to 4-2. Houlditch followed with an RBI single to score Pritchett. Daniel Pritchett then legged out an infield single to plate Dunn and move the advantage to 7-2 for Linden.

“They knew this was a rare thing for Linden,” Collins said. “They stepped up and I am proud of them.”

The offensive effort spilled over to the defensive side in the bottom of the second when third baseman Brad Collins fielded a grounder and ignited a 5-4-3 double-play to get starting pitcher Hayden Huckabee off the hook and preserve the five-run lead.

In the third frame, Linden added to the misery, scoring six runs in the inning. Barkley took a pitch off the helmet and ran unfazed to first base. Shade Pritchett then absorbed a fastball to the body to put runners on first and second with only one out. Collins followed with a two-RBI double before later coming in to score himself on a passed ball. Dunn singled and moved up a base when Houlditch was hit by a pitch. Broadhead then responded again, this time coming up with a two-run single to bring home Dunn and Houlditch. Huckabee furthered his own cause with an RBI single to score Broadhead and cap the inning at 13-2.

In the home half of the third, Huckabee pitched around a triple to keep Sumter at bay. He ended his night with seven strikeouts over three innings of work.

“Having Hayden as the go-to guy was big,” Collins said of the Linden pitching staff. “He is special.”

The fourth inning marked the third consecutive frame in which Linden sent at least 10 batters to the plate. Shade Pritchett started the rally when he was plunked by a pitch for the second straight inning. Collins followed with a single before Dunn reached on an error to load the bases. Weldon Aydelott then stroked a single into center to plate Pritchett. Daniel Pritchett drew a bases-loaded walk to pick up an RBI when he forced in Collins. Broadhead then picked up his fourth and fifth RBIs of the game when he hit a two-run single to plate Dunn and Aydelott. Gavin Tate drew a walk before Cook hit a single to score Daniel Pritchett. Barkley later knocked in Tate for an RBI, moving the Linden advantage to 20-2. Linden sent 13 batters to the plate in the frame, watching seven of them score.

Linden hit some struggles early in the fourth when Sumter got its first three batters aboard. Richard Jones reached on an error before T.J. Hughes drew a walk. Javoris Jenkins singled and pushed Jones across for the Sumter’s third run of the game. Greg Carter then roped two-RBI single to score Hughes and Jenkins and cap the scoring at 20-5.

“They have come together as a team so well,” Collins said. “The chemistry out here is remarkable. That is one of the reasons we won.”

In the first game of the evening, Aydelott went 1-for-3 with a walk and two runs. Broadhead was 1-for-1 with a run scored. Dunn went 1-for-3 with a walk and a run. Huckabee went 1-for-4 with a run scored. Houlditch went 2-for-4 with two doubles and two runs scored. Pritchett went 1-for-2 with a walk and a run scored. Tate was 2-for-3 with a double and two runs. Cook finished the game 3-for-3 with a double and a run scored.

Linden plays again in the 12U state tournament in Childersburg July 10.