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Kelly's grand slam sparks big inning as Cartersville Little League 11U all stars advance at stat

The Cartersville Little League 11U all star team outlasted Smyrna Little League, 17-9, in a high-scoring, shootout Sunday afternoon at the Georgia Little League 11U State Tournament in Columbus.

With both teams facing elimination in the double-elimination event, Cartersville and Smyrna traded runs for two and a half innings before Cartersville took control with an eight-run outburst in the bottom of the third.

There were 24 hits in the contest, including nine extra base hits as fans were treated to an offensive battle in the early going.

It was Cartersville’s relief pitching and consistent defense, however, that settled in over the final three innings as the locals advanced.

Smyrna took a 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning, but Cartersville answered with four runs in the bottom of the first.

Collin Fletcher doubled home Cartersville’s initial run and later scored himself after a ground ball single to centerfield by Tyler Shelton. Harrison Childers drove home Drake Carver with a groundout. Carver had reachd base earlier in the inning with a single. Shelton crossed the plate for Cartersville’s fourth run of the frame, scoring on a wild pitch, and giving the Canes a 4-2 lead.

Smyrna regained a 5-4 lead in the top of the second, but Cartersville responded with five runs in the bottom of the inning.

Three walks collected by Carver, Shelton, and Paul Gamble plus hits by Chris Roper, Fletcher, Childers, and Trip Bradley gave Cartersville a 9-4 lead after two innings.

Smyrna narrowed the lead to 9-7 in the top of the third, but Cartersville scored eight times in the bottom of the inning to take command.

Carver had two hits in Cartersville’s big inning. Fletcher, Kace Adams, and Roper also had hits, but it was a grand slam home run by Hunter Kelly that struck the biggest blow. The Canes also took advantage of three Smyrna errors in the inning to build a 17-8 lead.

Smyrna added a single run in the top of the fourth to make the score 17-9, but that would end the scoring as Cartersville’s Gamble and Carver combined to shutout Smyrna in the fifth and sixth innings.

The Canes utilized three pitchers in the victory.

A.J. Christina (1.1 IP, 4ER, 4H, 2BB, 1K) was the Cartersville starting pitcher. Gamble (4 IP, 3ER, 6H, 2BB, 3K) and Carver (0.2 IP, 0R, 0H, 1BB, 1K) worked in relief.

Fletcher (2 RBI) and Carver (RBI) finished with three hits each. Roper and Bradley (RBI) followed with two hits apiece. Kelly had four RBI with his grand slam. Adams, Childers (3 RBI), and Shelton (RBI) had the other Cartersville hits.

With the victory, Cartersville 11U advances to another elimination game Monday night. They will play West Point Little League at 6pm.

All games in the Georgia Little League 11U State Tournament are being played at Sally Little League in Columbus. The tournament continues through Friday, July 15.

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