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Hancock ‘9-Strong’ bashing its way to victory

May 31, 2017
By CHUCK BALLARO ( , North Fort Myers Neighbor

The Hancock Little League Nine-Strong All-Stars had some trouble filling its roster with 9-year-olds, so they went with some 8-year-olds to fill out their slate.

And they are glad they did. Besides giving the team a chance to play, they have contributed to the team's success as it registered two blowout, mercy-rule victories and a one-run defeat in its first three games of the District 9 Little League tournament.

Hancock had outscored their opponents 44-14 in their three games before its game against South Fort Myers on Friday at Rutenberg Park and has proven that they can keep themselves in the game no matter how far behind.

Article Photos

Hancock’s Kainen Adkins gets ready to catch the ball at first base during a 9-year-old All-Star game against Cape Coral National on May 20.


Against Cape National on May 20 at Verdow Field, Hancock started strong out of the blocks, scoring four times in the first in Austin Schoolcraft's grand slam and took a 5-1 lead before Cape National scored five in the third to take a 6-5 lead.

Hancock responded with an eight-run fourth, and a three-run fifth. Colt Crawford drove in four runs and scored twice and Hunter Fretwell drove in a pair in a 16-6 win that ended after five innings by the mercy rule.

"I loaded up early, watched the ball hit my bat and I let it go and kept running. I didn't want to stop," Schoolcraft said of his grand slam. "We didn't put our heads down. We stayed up and made solid contact. They weren't big hits, but they were something and they added up."

Crawford earned the win in relief with 2 2/3 scoreless innings, while the defense hold tight and even turned a double play late.

"They came back and that's what it's all about. You have to come back from the errors and make great plays and that's what we did," said coach Justin Crawford. "Great defense wins games."

Against Cape American on May 22 at Koza-Saladino Park, Hancock showed they should not be underestimated. Trailing 8-2, they rallied to tie the game only to have Cape recover and walk off with the win with a run in the bottom of the sixth.

Finally playing at home on Thursday following a rain out, Port Charlotte came in and was promptly beaten down early and often with a nine-run first inning enroute to another Hancock win that ended after the top of the fourth by the mercy rule.

Kobe Johnson scored three times along with Fretwell, Logan Hawkins and Xavier Gonzalez, 8, who also starred in the field with three great plays in centerfield.

"They hit the ball hard to the outfield and I was able to catch it. It's been easy for me to catch the ball since T-ball," Gonzalez said. "I'm able to go after the ball, open the glove and catch it. I had 10 catches one game."



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