Police had knocked on the door before, but could not get it open.
Wednesday, the boys in blue kicked it in.
Police built a 6-0 lead over five innings, then held off a rally to defeat Firemen, 6-3, to win the Boys’ Major Little League City Championship at Aumiller Park.
“The kids wanted to win this one for Coach Tom.” Police coach Terry Smith said of his older brother. “I took over after he had his surgery.”
Tom Smith had cancer surgery a few weeks ago and was actually in the third base coach’s box for this game. This was the third trip to the championship game in four years for Police under Smith’s guidance, but the first title.
Police pushed across two unearned runs in the second inning. Lincoln Mollenkopf walked with two outs and he moved to third on a throwing error. Carson Imbody singled Mollenkopf home, then scored himself on two wild pitches and another throwing error.
“A few errors hurt us,” Firemen coach Mark Middleton said. “We didn’t hit anything hard today.”
Police added a single run in the third on singles by Mike Wise and Noah Smith. They plated another in the fourth on Carson Imbody’s single, a wild pitch and two passed balls.
Meanwhile, starting pitcher Noah Smith and reliever Nate Imbody held Firemen at bay.
“Noah and Nate pitched a great game,” Terry Smith said. “Our outfielders got the ball in when they did get it out there. And Mike Wise did a good job at first base.”
Smith and Imbody scattered seven hits and kept the Firemen off the board until the sixth inning.
“We’ve been in double-digit hits all year,” Middleton said. “They made plays when they had to.”
Firemen rallied in the bottom of the sixth. Lucas Kozinski tripled to lead off. Zach Harer doubled him home. Anthony Hill walked and scored on a ground out. But it was not enough to prevent Firemen from suffering their first defeat of the year and they failed to defend their championship from last year.
Harer had two hits for Firemen and Kazuki Fujisawa added a double. Fujisawa and Kozinski combined to fan 13 Police hitters while walking two and limiting the opponents to five hits.
“The kids were smart with their base-running,” Terry Smith said. “They were very focused today. Kale Scott did a great job catching.
Scott had one of the five hits along with Aden Caldwell.
“We had a rough day hitting,” Middleton said. “It doesn’t happen every time.”