Lower Sussex defeats Georgetown for District 3 Championship

GEORGETOWN – Over a three-day span, Lower Sussex defeated Georgetown twice to capture the 2017 Delaware District 3 Senior League championship.

In Thursday night’s championship game, Lower Sussex put Georgetown away, 8-4, to clinch the title and move on to the state tournament next Saturday, July 8.

“They’re a good team,” Lower Sussex manager Tom Casset said of Georgetown. “They’re a very well-coached team, and they had a lot of heart and they fought all the way through. It was a good, competitive game.”

Lower Sussex starting pitcher Kyle Firle turned in a strong four-inning outing, holding Georgetown to just a pair of runs while striking out three batters.

“He’s a good, solid pitcher,” coach Casset said of Firle. “He gives it everything he has, he always does. He did a great job tonight.”

One of those two runs came in the top half of the first inning, as Georgetown’s Eddie Joyce drove in Mike Briggs with a single to left field.

The early Georgetown lead was short-lived.

In the bottom half of the first inning, Lower Sussex took the lead with a two-run double to left field off the bat of clean-up hitter Pat Cassat. Lead-off hitter K.J. Custis and Firle scored on the play to make it a 2-1 game.

“We had a slow start, but I had my pitcher’s back,” said Custis, who led the inning off with an infield single and a stolen base.

Catcher Brayden Ritter extended the Sussex lead to 3-1 the following at-bat, reaching first on an infield single to drive in Aaron King.

Lower Sussex never looked back.

A passed ball in the bottom of the second inning allows Ryan Foxwell to score for Lower Sussex.

In the top of the fourth inning, a Bobby Locklear groundout to third base allows Gage Lunn to score for Georgetown.

With a 4-1 cushion at the end of the fourth inning, Firle’s day on the mound was finished. But he allowed just nine runners on base over his four innings of work.

“It was a quality start, I just wish I could’ve gone longer. I just came out there and threw strikes,” Firle said. “The first inning could always be better, but hey you just have to fight through it.”

In relief, Chase Hall takes over on the mound, pitching a 1-2-3 fifth inning, with two fly-outs and a ground-out.

Georgetown’s Michael Briggs drives in a pair of runs in the sixth inning, the only two runs allowed by Hall. Hall – in two innings of work – struck out a pair of batters and forced a fly-out to escape a bases-loaded jam in the sixth inning.

Caleb Smith entered the game to close it out in the top of the seventh inning, facing six batters and striking out three to clinch the District 3 title.

Custis finished the game going 2-for-4 at the plate, including a two-run double to centerfield in the fourth inning.

“It’s excellent,” coach Casset said of having him at the lead-off spot. “He’s just a great lead-off hitter, and he’s a great teammate. He’s a fantastic player.”

In addition to his four innings on the mound, Firle went 1-for-3 at the plate, driving in a run on a fourth-inning double to left field. He also stole a base.

Lower Sussex went undefeated in the District 3 double-elimination tournament, while both of Georgetown’s losses came against Lower Sussex (10-2 on Tuesday, 8-4 on Thursday).

With the holiday weekend approaching, the Sussex boys will have off Monday and Tuesday but will get back to work mid-week to prepare for the state tournament.

“The way the holiday falls, we’ll be off Monday and Tuesday,” coach Casset said following the post-game celebration. “We’ll practice Wednesday and Thursday, and then we go to states on Saturday.”

Sports Editor Ben Heck can be reached at bheck@newszap.com.

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