The Caroline County Little League Senior All-Stars team kept the score tied for most of the final game of the state championship on July 17.
But a Northern Virginia team, DTQ, eventually moved ahead and won the championship 4-2.
The Caroline team members traveled 400 miles to the state tournament in Pound, VA on July 11 determined to win the state championship as they knocked other teams out of the tournament with scores like 11 to 2 and 11 to 4.
The team, managed by Ray Hess and coached by Keith Buchanan, included: Taylor Buchanan, Jay Chapman, Adam Desjarlais, Alex Desjarlais, Jake Dutton, Rasharrd Harris, Collin Hess, Ryan Hickman, Stephen Miller, Jaquan Monroe and Justin Pitts.
Under the leadership of Hess, who has taken four Little League teams in the past six years to state tournaments, the District 15 winner placed second out of the 12 districts represented in Pound with wins over Phoebus (5 to 1), Louisa (5 to 3), Fairfax (6 to 3), Coeburn (11 to 4), Green Run (11 to 2) and DTQ (2 to 1). The team’s two losses were both delivered by DTQ (Dumfries, Triangle, Quantico), including the final championship game.
The Caroline win over DTQ prior to the championship game gave DTQ its first loss at senior level in three years.
The All-Star team marked a milestone in the history of the Caroline Little League Association as being the first squad at any age level to make it to a state championship game. Previously the highest ranking was fourth place.
Caroline had to play twice in the championship match due to DTQ being undefeated during last week’s tournament.
Caroline scored early in the first inning of the beginning championship game, thanks to pinch runner Jaquan Monroe running for catcher Ryan Hickman. The score remained 1 to 0 until the top of the seventh inning when DTQ tied the game at one. With one out on Caroline in the bottom of the seventh, designated hitter Stephen Miller hit a game-ending walk-off homerun to centerfield to push Caroline ahead by one. Pitcher Collin Hess overwhelmed DTQ by throwing only 64 pitches in the entire no-hitter game.
The players battled non-stop in the second championship round for the right to represent Virginia at the southeast regional tournament in Debary, FL on Aug. 2. They tied the game at two before DTQ got ahead late in the match to win 4 to 2.
When asked how he felt about this year’s senior team, Hess said, “My [other] teams have won hundreds of tournaments over the years in men’s softball, AAU baseball, high school fall ball and Little League. I would’ve given any of those away to win that last game against DTQ. I enjoyed this team and these kids more than any other team I’ve ever had.”