Still in the hunt
By By DREW ELLIS / Special to the Niles Daily Star
MT. PLEASANT -- Sometimes, you just need to keep on pitching.
That was the attitude of Cameron Sly as he led Niles F.O.P. to a 16-13 win Friday against West Branch in the Major Little League State Championship.
Sly pitched five and one third innings, giving up 13 runs, but never lost his composure and kept Niles in position to win the game, and keep its state title hopes alive.
Niles gave Sly some early run support, scoring three runs in the opening inning thanks to a three-run home run by Asaad Ali.
West Branch took a big lead in the third, with an eight-run inning, but Niles held its ground and responded with an eight-run inning of its own in the fourth to regain the lead.
Ali had a two-run single in the fourth and Sly added an RBI single of his own.
As the game moved on, Niles opened the lead to 16-10 before West Branch made one more push in the fifth inning. Many thought Sly would be replaced on the mound, but coach Brawley had other things in mind.
Sly finished the fifth and got one out in the sixth before Ali took the mound to get the save.
Ali struck out two batters and walked one to give Niles its first ever state championship win, and keep hope alive for an appearance in the final four.
As the team gathered in the dugout after the win, Coach Brawley told a story to the kids about a kid who never gave up, never quit, and just kept going when the time was tough.
That kid was Sly.
Sly ended up 2-for-3 at the plate with two RBIs and one run scored.
Ali finished with four hits, five RBIs, and three runs scored. Nick Davis and Anthony Gladden also had four hits each.
Niles will take the field Saturday against Birmingham at 2:30 p.m. If the F.O.P. All-Stars win, they advance to the four-team tournament, which starts Sunday.