SELINSGROVE — After dropping into the elimination bracket following their second game of the District 13 Tournament, Warrior Run’s Major Division All-Stars began a journey like no other.
Playing with their backs to the wall since that loss, Warrior Run reeled off win after win after win just to reach the district final.
Warrior Run’s quest was a fruitful one, as the all-star team from Northumberland County claimed its first ever District 13 championship with an 8-4 triumph over Central Columbia on Tuesday at East Snyder Park’s DeWire Field.
“It’s an unbelievable feeling. I’m so proud of these kids,” said Warrior Run manager Derrick Zechman. “We set out for this journey with our backs against the wall five games in a row, and we answered the call every game, every game.
“It’s tough to do when you drop into the elimination bracket after your second game (a 15-5 loss to Danville on June 29). We actually got hot and we were resilient, and the sticks really picked up,” added Zechman.
Warrior Run moves on to the Section 3 Tournament, which begins at 5:30 p.m., Saturday, back at the friendly confines of East Snyder Park.
“We like that (the tournament is at Selinsgrove), and the awesome thing about it is that it resets. It’s a new tournament — double elimination with four teams — and one team will represent the section and go on to states,” said manager Zechman.
Warrior Run played with a sense of urgency right from the get-go, and it got an RBI triple from Brayden Gower to plate Griffin Harrington with the game’s first run in the bottom of the first.
“That got us all pumped up to, like, win the game. And then we came back, and won,” said Gower. “I was just looking for a good ball (to hit) and try to score a run.
“It feels good to be district champs. It was hard, but easy at the same time to win,” added Gower.
In the third inning, an error and an RBI double by Evan Brokenshire put Central in front 2-1.
However, any worries Warrior Run’s coaching staff may have had about a let-down and Central getting back into the game were short-lived.
Warrior Run came right back in the bottom of the third to take a 5-1 lead behind back-to-back RBI singles from Landon Polcyn and Cohen Zechman, in addition to a bases-loaded walk drawn by Zamir Keyes and a sacrifice fly from Chase Knarr.
“The kids were all right. We got down a little bit — we gave up two runs there and I felt we had the momentum up until then — and it changed real quick,” said manager Zechman. “I was proud of the guys of how we answered in the bottom half of the inning, not only to tie it up but to take the lead when things weren’t going our way (in the top of the third).”
An RBI single by Griffin Harrington in the fourth led to a three-run frame and some extra cushion on the scoreboard. Harrington plated Ulrich with his hit, while the other two runs came home when Landon Polcyn hit into a fielder’s choice — scoring Chase Knarr and Harrington.
Harrington finished the day 2-for-3 with three runs scored and an RBI, plus Gower also batted 2-for-3.
“I was just seeing the ball good. I didn’t try to do too much — I just went up there trying to score runs to get on top,” said Harrington. “We’re like the first people to even make it this far, and it feels amazing to be able to hold that banner and say we’re the District 13 champions.”
Warrior Run needed those insurance runs after Central caused some tense moments in the sixth when it scored twice — on an error and an RBI single by Noah Costa — but Landon Polcyn was able to settle down and get the final two outs to close it out for Gower.
Now it’s on to sectionals for the history-making Warrior Run Major All-Stars.
“It’s not sinking in yet, and it’s just crazy to think (we’re District 13 champions). We’re just going to enjoy it, and I’m so proud and tickled for these kids and the work we put in. It’s paid off,” said manager Zechman.
“Words can’t describe (how I feel), and it’s great to have all the support from people in our community coming out (to the games). It’s not easy to win a district title.”
District 13 Little League
Major Division championship game
at East Snyder Park, Selinsgrove
Warrior Run 8, Central Columbia 4
Central Col. 002 002 — 4-3-1
Warrior Run 104 30x — 8-8-3
Brayden Gower, Landon Polcyn (4) and Griffin Harrington, Gabe Engel (4). Landon Costa, Evan Brokenshire (3), Jansen Sarisky (4) and Sarisky, Parker Day (4).
WP: Gower. LP: Costa.
Central Columbia hitters: Aidan Smith, single, run scored; Alex Zeisloft, 2 runs, RBI; Brokenshire, double, 2 RBI, run; Noah Costa, single, RBI; Cole Swisher, walk; Landon Costa, walk.
Warrior Run hitters: Tyler Ulrich, triple, walk, 2 runs scored; Chase Knarr, 2 walks, RBI, run; Harrington, 2-for-3, 3 runs, RBI; Gower, 2-for-3, triple, RBI, run; Polcyn, single, 2 RBI, run; Cohen Zechman, single, RBI; Zamir Keyes, walk, RBI; Jalen Hall, single.