By Jeff Nations - firstname.lastname@example.org
From history delayed to history made -- that was the feeling shared by members of the Strasburg Little League 11-12 year-old all-star squad on Wednesday night.
In the deciding game of the best-of-three District 3 championship series, host Strasburg knocked off Grottoes, 9-3, to claim a long-awaited championship and move on to the Virginia state tournament next week in Portsmouth. The Strasburg all-stars are only the second team to ever advance to the state tournament in that age division -- the first since 1978 -- and are the first Strasburg Little League team to move on to states since the Strasburg Junior all-stars in 1985.
It was vindication for the Strasburg 11-12 squad, many of whom played for the District 3 championship two years before in the 9-10 division and fell short to Bridgewater.
"They had some unfinished business," Strasburg manager Kacy Hendricks said. "They had that bitter taste in their mouth to come back and win."
After beating Clarke County for the Area 1 championship last week, Strasburg hosted Grottoes in Game 1 on Monday night and came away with a 7-4 win in seven innings.
On Tuesday night, Grottoes returned the favor with a 6-5 victory in Harrisonburg to set up the deciding Game 3 on Wednesday night.
With the score tied 3-3 in the bottom of the fourth inning, Cory Clinedinst delivered a crushing blow with a grand slam to put Strasburg up for good. It was one of two home runs Clinedinst hit in the game, and he also picked up the victory on the mound for the host team.
Ryan Bowers also connected for a home run for Strasburg.
"In three games we hit eight home runs," Hendricks said. "So far for all-stars, we've hit 11 home runs."
Clinedinst has three, while Bowers, Adam Miller, Ryan Day and Kolby Schlag have each hit two apiece.
On the mound, Mekhi Hendricks won three times during all-star play as Strasburg posted a 7-1 record.
Other members of the team include Jack Trenary, Austin Miller, Justin Ricard, Eric Steacy and Kyle Sisk. Joining Kacy Hendricks on the coaching staff are Robbie Bowers and Bubba Day.
Strasburg opens state tournament play on July 19 at Olive Branch Little League in Portsmouth.
Also earning a District 3 championship this week was the Front Royal 10-11 all-stars, which knocked off Elkton in two games including a 12-0 win on Tuesday. Front Royal opens state tournament play on July 18 at Poquoson Little League.
The Front Royal Junior all-stars opened the District 3 championship series against Broadway on Thursday night. The winner of that best-of-three championship series will advance to the state tournament starting July 19 at Washington County Little League in Bristol.