SHENANDOAH JUNCTION — Jefferson County’s 10-12 Little League Baseball’s all-star team got as far as the District 6 Tournament last year. Although it won the district championship, it turned out to be the end of the season because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Earlier in 2020, Little League Baseball’s international headquarters in Williamsport, Pennsylvania announced the cancellation of the 2020 season worldwide, but later permitted limited programs on the in the summer on localized levels.
Mike Moulton, the manager of the JCLL 10-12 all-star team, said district play was later in the year, but stopped at the district level.
This year, however, JCLL will enjoy a longer post-season.
Serf Guerro belted a pair of home runs, paving the way for Jefferson County Little League’s 5-2 win over Mineral County on Monday for the District 6 10-12 Little League Baseball championship at Hedgesville Little League.
From his leadoff spot in the batting order, Guerro, the team’s leading hitter, belted the first pitch he saw in the bottom of the first inning, sending it far beyond the left field fence for a leadoff homer. He blasted a two-run shot over the same spot in left field in the fourth.
Guerro finished with two homers and three RBIs.
John McCarthy had two hits with a triple for JCLL. Teegan Moulton had an RBI on a sacrifice fly in the third.
JCLL surrendered a pair of unearned runs to Mineral in the third.
Mason Lowery got the win, scattering three hits over five innings with no earned runs and seven strikeouts. Guerro came on in the sixth and earned the save.
JCLL now advances to the state 10-12 Little League Tournament in Lewisburg.
The team had already won the area championship prior to the district tournament
In a bit of irony, JCLL played on the home field of the very league it defeated in a three-team tournament. JCLL defeated Hedgesville, then Martinsburg to win the area title.
“It was kind of boring last year,” Guerro said of the abbreviated tournament season, which ended at the district level. “It wasn’t like a normal season.”
Given the fact Guerro, who bats in the leadoff spot most of the time, is the team’s top hitter, it’s no surprise he was disappointed at last year’s short, but delayed, season, His feelings echoed the millions of Little League players around the world last year. Other than travel baseball, which was permitted under strict COVID-19 protocols, there were a lot of players sitting around with not a whole lot to do.
Guerro’s making up for lost time this season. Including his time on the local travel baseball team, Guerro’s hit a team-best 46 home runs, three of which he belted in the area tournament.
“Serf’s definitely one of our top three hitters, Moulton, who also coaches Guerro, as well as many of his own players, on the travel team, said, adding Guerro plays with a lot of confidence.
Guerro also knows hitting alone won’t win a game. He also pitches and plays first base.
“You need a lot of good pitching and play good defense,” he said. “The bats have to come alive.”
Teegan Moulton, who bats sixth in the lineup and plays second base, recalls the team had to be weary of a good Hedgesville pitcher at the area tournament. JCLL responded with a 10-0 win on Saturday, June 19. Guerro had three hits with a pair of homers.
From there, JCLL went on to shut out Martinsburg, 4-0, in the area title game the next day. Guerro and Liam Sager each belted homers in that game. Hunter Heffner had six strikeouts over 66 pitches.
With Guerro at the top of the order, Teegan Moulton said Martinsburg had little choice but to pitch to Guerro.
Teegan Moulton said playing sharp baseball is important. “We can’t afford to make any errors,” he said.
The fact JCLL sports a 13-player roster speaks for itself.
“We’ve got a very deep team,” Mike Moulton said. “All of our players can hit and pitch. There are not too many teams out there that can do that.”
While it’s true many of the JCLL players are involved in travel ball, it’s not a substitute for the Little League program. Mike Moulton views it as more of an enhancement.
“Little League Baseball is very important to us around here,” Mike Moulton said. “It’s a big deal, the only Little League program in the county.”
Having the most storied high school baseball program in the Mountain State right next door is certainly a huge plus. JCLL’s facility is right next to Jefferson High School, which has won 12 Class AAA state championships.
JCLL’s colors match that of JHS, maroon and gold. The league likes that attachment to the Cougars’ baseball program. Mike Moulton graduated from JHS and played on a previous JCLL team which won a state Little League title.
There had been other Little League programs in the Charles Town-Ranson area, in the past, but JCLL has withstood the test of time, Mike Moulton said. He hopes the end-result of the district tournament will be another district crown for JCLL and a trip to the state Little League tournament in Lewisburg in a few weeks.