SELINSGROVE — Landon Polcyn watched as the final out happened at third base.
“It was just like adrenaline through my veins,” Warrior Run’s first baseman and pitcher said. “It was one of the greatest feelings of my life, that I could come through for my team and get the win.”
Polcyn singled home the go-ahead run in the third inning, and pitched three strong innings in relief of winning pitcher Brayden Gower, as Warrior Run claimed its first-ever District 13 Little League Major Division Tournament title with an 8-4 victory over Central Columbia at DeWire Field at East Snyder Park.
It capped a remarkable run through the elimination bracket for Warrior Run (6-1), winning five straight games to claim the title after dropping its second game of the tournament to Danville, a contest played over two days due to thunderstorms on June 29 and 30.
“It’s an unbelievable feeling. I’m so proud of these kids,” Warrior Run manager Derrick Zechman said. “We set out on this journey and our backs were against the wall five games in a row. We answered the call every game, every game.
“We actually got hot, and we were resilient.”
Warrior Run will face Orwigsburg, a 7-0 winner over Minersville in the District 24 championship game, on Saturday at noon back at DeWire Field in the opening game of the Section 3 Tournament. The winner of the Section 3 Tournament advances to the Pennsylvania State Little League Tournament at Camp Hill from July 21-28. The winner of the state tournament advances to the Mid-Atlantic Regional Tournament before the winner of that plays in Williamsport at the Little League World Series.
Warrior Run took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first when Chase Knarr walked and was erased on Griffen Harrington’s fielder’s choice. Brayden Gower then hit a shot to right field that Central Columbia’s right fielder misread for an RBI triple and the lead.
Gower cruised through the first two innings, striking out six batters, but did have some control issues with two hit batters and a walk.
Central Columbia got its first hit when Aidan Smith led off the third with a single. He went to second on a wild pitch. With two outs, Alex Zeisloft hit a nubber in front of the plate. Warrior Run threw the ball away, allowing Smith to score the tying run. Evan Brokenshire than hit a ball down the left-field line, and Knarr made a diving attempt, but couldn’t make a catch. Brokenshire had an RBI double and Central Columbia had a 2-1 lead.
“I thought we had momentum in the game, up until that point. The boys were a little down (when they come to the dugout),” Zechman said. “I was proud of how they answered in the bottom of that inning.”
“Once they got up on us, we got a little nervous,” Polcyn said.
It didn’t take long for those nerves to go away.
Tyler Ulrich tripled with one out for Warrior Run and scored on Knarr’s sacrifice fly to tie the game at 2-2. Harrington singled and went to second on a wild pitch. Gower reached on an infield single to put runners on the corners.
That brought Polcyn to the plate, who had ended the first with a strikeout with Gower on third base.
“I was just trying to put the ball. I didn’t want to make an out again,” Polcyn said. “I was kind of pretty mad that I made an out in that first at-bat.”
Polcyn gave Warrior Run the lead with a lined single over the first baseman’s head. Cohen Zechman added an RBI single and Sunday’s hero, Zamir Keyes, added an RBI walk as Warrior Run opened up a 5-2 lead.
Polcyn then took the hill and had little trouble in his first two innings of relief, retiring the side in order in the fourth and fifth innings.
“Last game, I didn’t pitch that well (Polcyn threw an inning against Central Columbia on Sunday) and my dad told me what I was doing wrong in the car on the ride home,” Polcyn said. “I tried to do what he said and it worked.”
“(Monday) we had a good bullpen session with all of the pitchers that were available to pitch in this game,” Derrick Zechman said. “We just really worked on throwing strikes. We thought if we threw strikes and played defense, we would be in good shape. We were fortunate that last game because we walked eight guys and got away with it.”
Warrior Run added three more runs in the fourth. Back-to-back walks to Ulrich and Knarr started the inning, and Harrington singled home a run. After an out, Polcyn hit an RBI fielder’s choice. A throwing error on the play allowed a second run to second for an 8-2 Warrior Run lead.
Warrior Run was hit by some jitters trying to close out the game. Zeisloft singled and went to second on a throwing error. Brokenshire then struck out, but reached on a wild pitch. A throw to third allowed Zeisloft to score and put Brokenshire on second, cutting the lead to 8-3.
After an out, Landon Costa singled home a run to make the score 8-4, but after a walk, Polcyn got a pop out and a grounder to start the Warrior Run celebration.
DISTRICT 13 LITTLE LEAGUE
at DeWire Field, East Snyder Park, Selinsgrove
WARRIOR RUN 8, CENTRAL COLUMBIA 4
Central Columbia`002`002 — 4-4-1
Warrior Run`104`30x — 8-8-3
Landon Costa, Evan Brokenshire (3), Jansen Sarisky (4) and Sarisky, Parker Day (4). Brayden Gower, Landon Polcyn (4) and Griffen Harrington, Gabe Engle (4).
WP: Gower; LP: Costa; S: Polcyn.
Central Columbia: Aidan Smith 1-for-4, run; Alex Zeisloft 1-for-3, 2 runs; Brokenshire 1-for-3, double, run, RBI; Noah Costa 1-for-2, RBI.
Warrior Run: Tyler Ulrich 1-for-3, triple, 2 runs; Chase Knarr, run, RBI; Harrington 2-for-3, 3 runs, RBI; Gower 2-for-3, triple, run, RBI; Polcyn 1-for-3, run, 2 RBIs; Cohen Zechman 1-for-3, RBI; Zamir Keyes, RBI.