MOUNT VERNON — They took a chance, and it paid off.
With two outs in the bottom of the sixth, clinging to a one-run lead and holding a runner on third, First-Knox chose to intentionally walk Exchange’s Clay Matthews, who already had two hits on the day. Two pitches later, First-Knox forced the next batter into a fielder’s choice, giving the team a 3-2 victory and the Major League tournament championship at Phillips Park on Monday.
“(Matthews) has hit the baseball all year. We knew it,” said First-Knox head coach Bart Severns. “So, we had to do something, and it paid off. We got the out we needed.”
First-Knox, which also won the regular season championship, was paced by the bat — and the arm — of Connor Curry. The youngster hit an RBI double in the first, then added a towering solo home run in the fourth that sailed over the scoreboard in left center field.
On the mound, Curry struck out 11 and walked one in 5 2/3 innings. He allowed seven hits and one earned run.
Exchange’s Colton Finnell is widely considered to be one of the best pitchers in the Major League level, and it showed on Monday. He allowed just four hits in a complete game effort while striking out 12 and walking none.
“That team we just played is a great team,” said Severns. “They’ve battled us all year.”
A.J. Camillo came on in relief for First-Knox with two outs in the sixth. He issued the intentional walk on Matthews before getting the final out and collecting the save.
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