Known for its power hitting, Kernersville Little League shows it has pitching as well in a 2-0 win over West Virginia.
As it bashed its way through the North Carolina state playoffs, the Kernersville Little League squad earned a reputation as maulers who can tear down the fences. After all, the team hit 23 home runs in 10 playoff games to earn the trip to Gulfport.
So what has North Carolina relied on during its first two games of the Southern Regional tournament, including Friday's winners bracket game against Barboursville, W. Va.?
Andrew Flynt threw a two-hit shutout and retired 16 of the 20 batters he faced to lead North Carolina to a 2-0 victory. In two games, the team has allowed just one run and committed no errors.
"Everyone kept saying this is a team with a whole bunch of power," North Carolina manager Billy Mitchell said. "But I've told people all along that our pitching and defense have been the key."
It was most evident Friday afternoon. After giving up a single in the first inning, Flynt bore down by sticking to his mantra: throw strikes. He did, and the West Virginia batters responded with groundouts, flyouts and strikeouts. West Virginia did not have more than one runner reach base in an inning, and no one got past first.
But Flynt, who admitted he was nervous before the game, wasn't able to relax until the third inning. That was when his teammates provided all the offensive support he needed.
Kyle Leasure, Kyle Moore and Ryan Caldwell singled to load the bases. Tony Morini, who was the pitcher in North Carolina's first win, drove in Leasure with the first run on a groundout. Ted Randolph followed with a single up the middle that brought home Moore.
"I felt it was important to get some runs early," Randolph said. "That way, Andrew wouldn't be so tense."
Flynt finished with three strikeouts and walked two.
"Andrew did a great job," Mitchell said. "He battled the heat and got ahead of the hitters. We decided to go with Andrew today because that's our set rotation. We feel like (with Morini and Flynt) we have two No. 1 guys. And this is a staff that I'd put up against anybody."
In the losers bracket, Virginia led 7-0 by the top of the fifth inning and eliminated Florida 7-3. The Florida representative, Coral Springs American Red, won twice in the losers bracket after dropping its first game. Also, South Carolina scored one in the first inning and once in the third on its way to a 2-0 win over Kentucky.