F.O.P. All-Stars make league history with sectional victory
By By DAN WEISS / Niles Daily Star
DOWAGIAC -- For the first time ever, the Niles F.O.P. Little League will be represented at a Michigan State Tournament.
The F.O.P. 12-year-old All-Stars earned a spot in the upcoming state tournament with a 12-2 win over Westwood here Monday night in the final game of the Sectional Tournament.
Niles won the first game of the best-of-three series Friday night before falling by one run in Saturday's game.
The F.O.P. All-Stars came out on fire in the top of the first inning. The first four batters--Andrew Brawley, Mike Simpson, Taylor Ort and Asaad Ali--each hit a single off Westwood pitcher Kyle Cunningham-Rhoads. Ort and Ali each drove in a run before Ort scored on a wild pitch. A single by Anthony Gladden brought in another run and Rick Briand's single drove in the fifth and final run of the inning for the F.O.P. All-Stars.
Niles gave up two runs in the bottom of the first inning, but did not budge the rest of the way.
In the top of the second inning, Ali ripped his second three-run homer in sectional play to increase the F.O.P. lead to 8-2.
Three straight singles in the top of the second inning, by William Powers, Brawley and Simpson, led to a run when Ort took a walk for his second RBI of the game.
Niles added three more runs in the top of the fifth inning as Ort started a two-out rally with his single up the middle. Errors allowed Ort, Ali and Nick Davis to reach home and make it a 10-run advantage.
The F.O.P. All-Stars held Westwood scoreless in the bottom of the fifth to enforce the 10-run mercy rule and earn the victory.
Ort picked up the win on the mound for F.O.P., giving up just three hits and striking out nine batters with just one walk.
Niles opens play at the state tournament Thursday at 1:30 p.m. against Blissfield. The F.O.P. All-Stars then play Friday at 11 a.m. against Birmingham. Niles plays the Sectional No. 3 winner on Saturday at noon for its final game of pool play. The F.O.P. All-Stars are in the Blue Pool.
Championship play begins Sunday with the pool winners squaring off at 1 p.m. and the pool runners-up facing each other at 3:30 p.m. Finally, the title game will be played Monday at 4 p.m.