Mack Marston had to buckle down in a hurry.
The pitcher for the North Fork Marston Insurance baseball team was wild but struck out six in three innings of relief to help secure the Licking County Shrine Tournament Farm Division title in a 6-4 win over Southwest Licking Slagle-Kiser Dental on July 5.
Marston also tripled in the first and doubled in the fifth to drive in Garrett Meyers with the go-ahead run of the championship game for 9- and 10-year-olds at the Mound City Little League complex.
"I was like, 'Oh, my God,'" Marston said of his pitching. "I knew I had to focus more and calm down. Sometimes it helps when I realize that I have to just throw strikes."
Trailing 4-2 in the bottom of the fourth, Slagle-Kiser chased Meyers, the Marston Insurance starter, after Sabastian Bateman reached on an error leading off the inning and Drake Barnish walked.
Marston entered and recorded a strikeout before hitting Braden Vandenbark to load the bases. Bobby Montagnese then grounded into a fielder's choice to score Bateman and Barnish, who never stopped at third and beat the throw home to tie the game at 4.
Marston then hit Drake Weber but ended the inning with a strikeout.
"I told (Mack) to get out there and throw strikes," coach Mark Marston said. "If they hit it, they hit it.
"We had confidence in Mack and when we went with him, we were going to stay with him.
"He had outings like this before and had to work through it."
Marston Insurance took a 4-1 lead in the second. Mack Marston tripled with two outs in the first off Slagle-Kiser starter Owen Diamond and scored on a wild pitch.
In the second, Brandon Piper singled and scored. Kyler Cummins and Noah Thompson also scored as Marston Insurance took advantage of three walks and two errors.
"Going up 4-1 was really important," said coach Marston, whose team improved to 32-2. "We knew (Slagle-Kiser) could hit the ball and would hit the ball. Getting the lead gave us confidence."
Thompson reached on an error to lead off the sixth and scored the final run on a throwing error.
"We gave up four runs early and we gave (the game) to them," said Slagle-Kiser coach Steve Dupps, whose team fell to 29-5 overall. "That's not taking anything away from (Marston Insurance) because they took advantage of every mistake we made."
Slagle-Kiser had three hits, but Vandenbark's third-inning double was the only one after the first. Montagnese and Connor Brandon both had singles in the team's first at-bat.
"(Mack) Marston throws the ball hard and we were anxious to get up there and hit it," Dupps said. "Our kids kept battling."
Marston struck out the side in the sixth to end the game.
• CONSOLATION - Devin Middlemus singled to drive in Lawson Tittle in the ninth inning to lead Lakewood Ours Wrecking past North Newark Bloomberg Eye Center 10-9 in the consolation game.
Ours scored two runs in the sixth to send the game into extra innings tied at 5 before scoring four times in the seventh to tie the game at 9.
"We came this far in the tournament and we knew we had to keep plugging," Ours coach Chris Middlemus said. "The kids showed a lot of heart."
Devin Middlemus had a triple, double and single and pitched 7 2/3 innings. Lawson Tittle had a double and two singles, and Lawrence Tittle had three doubles and was the winning pitcher. Luke Duval and Gavin McIntosh both had singles.
Bren Johnson reached base four times for Bloomberg, and Johnny Valdez and Caden Elwell both reached base three times.