WINTER GARDEN — Amid 10 consecutive outs for pitcher Akash Shah, the Rays scored five runs in the fourth inning to take the lead for good in a 10-5 defeat of the Royals May 22, in the Winter Garden Little League Majors Championship.
Akash relieved Bailey Chumbley with two outs and two runners in scoring position in the top of the second inning, down 3-1. Akash got a strikeout to end the half-inning and then threw three perfect half-innings to follow, by which point the Rays had amassed a 10-3 lead.
“I thought he was pitching well and his defense was doing a great job backing him up with each batter,” Rays Manager Tambria Naginey said of Akash. “I am really excited for him. He has done well this season.”
Although Akash allowed two runs in the top of the sixth, he finished with 4 1/3 half-innings pitched and four strikeouts.
Akash also had an RBI single and scored in the Rays’ big fourth inning, when they batted around via five hits, a walk and a hit batter.
“Once they started getting a few hits, it was contagious,” Naginey said. “They kept their heads in the game and kept playing hard and didn’t get down. They were there to win.”
Anchoring the offense was Caitlyn Naginey, who went 4-for-4 with two doubles, three runs and three RBI. She hit a two-run double that tied the game at 3 in the third before her RBI single in the fourth gave the Rays a 4-3 lead.
“I felt confident with her up and two on, knowing if she was patient at the plate she would get a hit,” Tambria Naginey said of Caitlyn’s third-inning at-bat. “I thought she did a great job and thought it changed the momentum in our favor.”
Matthew Wiggins went 3-for-4 for the Rays, each of his hits a single that plated one run.
For the Royals, Kenny Concepcion Jr. and Connor Kristofik combined for five strikeouts in five half-innings. Shane Skaling reached base in the game’s first at-bat and scored; he followed that with an RBI single in the second.
The Rays will play in the Top Team Tournament of Florida Little League District 14, which includes champions in the same 11-12 age group from Ocoee, Dr. Phillips, Windermere and South Lake leagues. Play is scheduled to begin June 3 and end June 9.
“This is what they worked hard for all season, and I am confident they will all do well,” Tambria Naginey said of her Rays. “It will be a great experience for the team, and I am excited for them all.”
The Rays will receive recognition as champions at a Winter Garden Squeeze game this summer, as well.
“It has been a fun season,” Tambria Naginey said. “Kyle Britt and Troy Chumbley are our other two coaches, and we have worked as a team all season. We wouldn’t be where we are without working together. Each player has their own uniqueness they bring to the game, and all of them have contributed in getting our team to where it is. We are very proud of this team.”
AAA Championship: Orioles 9, D’backs 2
Brody Wilcox and Blayke Rabens allowed just two runs while striking out 15 D’backs. Christian Borbely had four hits for the O’s.
Minors Championship: Marlins 4, Indians 3
Zale Lugo, Om Vishanagra and William McElveen kept the Indians at bay from the mound. Contributions from fielders such as Isaac Griffin and Kyle Stirwalt helped the Marlins to win.
Contact Zak Kerr at [email protected].