Game 4
Mid Atlantic
7 vs. Great Lakes 2
Friday, August 20, 2004
1:00PM ET

Sweet Caroline!
South Caroline Little League tops Owensboro, Ky.

By David Graham-Caso

By the time the Pool B showdown between the Mid-Atlantic and Great Lakes was completed, the scoreboard looked like gibberish. Seven runs for the South Caroline Little League from Preston, Md. on three hits? It simply did not make sense.

Unfortunately for the Owensboro Southern Little League, the line score was indeed accurate. Maryland had capitalized on Great Lakes ace Cole Sturgeon’s control problems and bested the Kentucky squad 7-2 in front of 7,477 at Volunteer Stadium.

Sturgeon, who twice had struck out 17 of a possible 18 batters in the Great Lakes regional, was being built up as the marquee player for the Great Lakes squad. The lefty throws a fastball that scorches by hitters at speeds of up to 77 mph and a knee-buckling curveball. Regrettably for Kentucky, not only was Sturgeon’s location off on Saturday afternoon, but Maryland had an ace of their own. The Kentucky ace was out-dueled by Maryland’s number one starter, Davonta DeSheilds.

DeShields tossed a complete game, striking out nine in his winning effort.  “I felt confident today,” said the Maryland hurler.

“Davonta came over to me after the first inning and said that he felt confident getting his curveball over,” manager Curtis Payne said. “I gave him some more chances to throw the curve and he was spotting it really well.”

Sturgeon was wild in the first inning, walking two and hitting DeShields with a pitch. Sturgeon’s lack of control coupled with a bobbled grounder by shortstop Jonathon Higdon resulted in a South Caroline run in their first at bat. Though he had not given up a hit, Sturgeon suddenly found himself trailing.

The Maryland lead would not last for long. After fanning Luke Daugherty, DeShields walked consecutive hitters and then a seeing-eye single plated special pinch runner Donte Washington from second. Two batters later, pinch hitter Stephen Hardy sent a chopper up the middle that brought in Bryson Morrow and gave Kentucky the 2-1 lead.

The lead flip-flopped again in Maryland’s next trip to the plate. Sturgeon again ran into control problems, loading the bases with back-to-back walks and another hit batsman. With the bases full, Maryland clean up hitter Brady Hare sent a deceiving fly ball to centerfield. Kentucky centerfielder Andrew Webb misjudged the fly ball and the potential third out skipped off the diving fielder’s mitt. Two runs scored on the error. Kentucky was now down 3-2 despite the fact that Sturgeon had yet to surrender a base hit.

Sturgeon’s no-hitter lasted until the bottom of the fourth inning, when Hare demolished a Sturgeon offering into the right-centerfield gallery. After Hare’s two-run blast, Kentucky manager Vic Evans Jr. opted to relieve Sturgeon with Jonathon Higdon.

Sturgeon suffered the loss, allowing five runs (two earned) on five walks and four hit bastman in 3.1 innings.

“I don’t think it was nerves,” said Evans Jr. “Some days you go out on the mound and you feel like a million bucks, and some days you go out there and you couldn’t hit water if you fell out of a boat.”

Maryland tacked on two more insurance runs in their half of the fifth frame with a two-run double down the leftfield line by four-foot-11 second baseman Hunter Bennett.

“Looks can be deceiving,” said Payne. “Hunter can hit the ball.”

Click here for box scores.

Photography by Caroline Connolley

© 2004 Little League Baseball Incorporated