Unity All-Stars win tourney openers

By Alan Patton

Both Unity Little League All-Star teams had their district tournament baseball gamespushed back a day because of rain, but neither squad let the delays hamper their spirits, as the 9 and 10-year old and the 11 and 12-year old teams emerged victorious from their tournament openers. The 11- and 12-year olds had their first post season contest pushed back from Thursday to Friday, but was still able to blank Champaign East, 10-0 in four innings at the District 2 tournament in Champaign. 

Meanwhile, the 9-10-year olds had to wait until Saturday morning to get under way, but posted a come-from-behind 8-2 win over Champaign West in the District 2 tourney at Tuscola. The wins allowed both Unity teams to advance into winner’s bracket competition.

The 11/12 year olds at Champaign Unity took control from the very beginning to shutout Champaign East in their district opener at First Federal Field in Champaign. A three-run first inning put the All-Stars in control early. J.D. Wells, Colson Miller, Charlie Scott and Zack Lorbiecki all drew one-out walks, while Gabe Pound and Tre Hoggard also reached base in the bottom of the first inning to get things started for Unity.

The second saw Unity score two more runs, both coming with two out. Miller walked after the first two batters had been retired, and Scott followed with an RBI double. Lorbiecki singled, and Pound reached base for the second time in two innings to give Unity a 5-0 lead.

A four-run outburst in the bottom of the third gave Unity a 9-0 lead, and a run in the fourth ended the contest by the 10-run rule. In the third, Nolan Remole started the third with a leadoff single, which was followed by walk to Kyler Anderson and Aiden Porter. Wells, Scott and Lorbiecki kept the inning going with singles to push more runs across the plate. Remole led off the fourth with a walk, and scored when Porter blasted a double to the base of the left-field fence into a stiff north wind. Porter’s blast send Remole home with the game-ending run and moved Unity into the winner’ bracket to face Urbana on Saturday afternoon.

The beneficiary of Unity’s offensive show was pitcher Zack Lorbiecki, who went the distance for the victory. Lorbiecki held Champaign East to just three hits over four innings, while striking out three and walking four. Lorbiecki also benefited from a key defensive play by Porter, who tracked down a flair in short center field and threw home to cut down a baserunner, ending Champaign East’s biggest threat.

At the plate, Unity was led by Scott, who went two for two with a walk and scored twice. Lorbiecki also contributed a pair of hits, while Wells, Miller and Remole scored two runs apiece. 


9/10-year olds at Tuscola

The nine and ten-year old district tourney at Tuscola also experienced a delay because of the weather, but the schedule took more of a hit when one team, Taylorville, withdrew from the tournament, forcing a redrawing of the brackets. As a result, Unity played Champaign West on Saturday morning.

Things started out rough for Unity starting pitcher Collin Gravin, who gave up a pair of runs in the top of the first inning. Gravin struck out Champaign’s leadoff batter, then walked four straight and hit a batter before fanning the last two hitters of the inning. Dane Eisenmenger relieved Gravin to start the second inning and held Champaign West scoreless for four innings.

Unity got its offense going in the bottom of the third, scoring three runs on three hits. Tristan Alexander led off with a single to right, stole second base, and crossed the plate on a runscoring double to right center by Eisenmenger. Gravin sent Eisenmenger home when he reached on an error by the Champaign West shortstop, and an RBI single off the bat of Graydin Cler plated Gravin with the go-ahead run. Unity added some insurance runs in the home half of the sixth, hanging a five-spot on the scoreboard. The All-Stars took advantage of some wildness by the Champaign pitchers, drawing six walks as 11 batters came to the plate. Caden Stierwalt and Eisenmenger had the only hits in the frame for Unity, who also took advantage of a pair of errors.

Eisenmenger led Unity with a pair of two-base hits and drove in one run. Austin Winters, Alexander, Cler and Stierwalt also recorded hits for the All-Stars. Alexander scored twice in the winning effort.

On the mound, Eisenmenger picked up the victory in relief of Gravin.

Eisenmenger threw 69 pitches in four innings and blanked Champaign West without a hit, while fanning ten and walking one. Winters worked the final frame, giving up Champaign West’s only hit on a dribbler in the bottom of the sixth. In his one inning on the mound, Winters struck out two and walked a pair. 

The Unity staff combined to hold Champaign to just one hit while whiffing 15. 

With their victory on Saturday, the Unity 9-10-year old All-Stars moved into the winner’s bracket, where they were scheduled to play Champaign East on Monday evening


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