WHITE HALL — White Hall coach Joey Richmond was a little nervous after his team dropped the first game of a best-of-three series against Hot Springs for the 11-year-old state Little League title.
Richmond’s team rebounded, though, and behind a strong pitching performance by Reece Wilkerson and his offense scoring seven runs, White Hall claimed the championship with a 7-2 win on Monday at Dickie Lunsford Field.
Richmond, who has been coaching the 11-year-old team for 29 years, won his sixth title.
“It’s been a privilege and an honor to coach these boys,” said Richmond, who got a bit choked up after the game. “I’ve been doing this for almost 30 years and it’s still brand new anytime you get a championship.”
Richmond’s son, Nick, was on White Hall’s team this year, which meant that Richmond has coached all three of his sons to a title.
Hot Springs had a chance to get an early lead on White Hall in the first inning. With runners at first and second and no one out, Gideon Drake flew out to right field. But Shawn Lingo left second base early and right fielder Xavier Stewart threw the ball to shortstop Zack Motsinger, who touched the base for the second out.
“(Xavier) has played some good ball this year and he made the play and had enough presence to get the ball in,” Richmond said. “That was big because that kind of broke their backs right there.”
White Hall got on the board in the first inning as Walker Bailey drove in two runners and Nick Richmond scored another runner for a 3-0 lead.
In the second inning, White Hall built a 6-0 lead as Bradley Reece and Bailey each drove in a run and Bailey scored on an error.
Hot Springs got on the board with a run in the third inning, but White Hall got it right back on Wilkerson’s RBI single.
Hot Springs managed just one more run, which was in the fifth inning, as Wilkerson pitched 5 1/3 innings. He gave up just six hits and struck out seven batters.
“It was fun. … I think I did pretty good,” Wilkerson said. “Our hitting did pretty good too.”
Bailey got the last two outs in the game to seal the deal for White Hall.
“Reece came in and did his job today and Walker finished up,” Richmond said. “They stepped up a notch.”