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The Rays and the Braves blasted their way into the Tullahoma Little League City Championship game as they each won a pair of lopsided games Thursday night in their division finals.
It was a night of upsets as both the Rays in the American League and the Braves in the National League entered their respective contests as No. 3 seeds. Still, they both were able to topple the No. 1 seed in their division and move on to Saturday’s City Championship.
In Thursday’s division finals, the Rays rode the hot bat of Amauri Burks to a 20-8 win over the White Sox.
Burks, who led the league in home runs in the regular season, connected on a pair of grand slams. And with the bases loaded again in the fourth inning, he came tantalizingly close to clearing the bases yet again.
Burks was 2-for-3 with nine RBIs. Teammate Bailey Miller was 3-for-3, while Kobe Burks, Quintin Howard, Payton Howard, Nick Gressell and Jared Sebourn each added a hit.
The Rays plated eight runs in the first inning to build an 8-2 lead. They never looked back after that.
Kobe Burks started, went 2 2/3 innings on the mound and picked up the win. He gave up four runs on five hits, while striking out five. He issued three walks. Brice Fulcher closed out the game for the winners.
Mikey Thompson took the loss for the White Sox. Offensively, Thomson was the only White Sox player with multiple hits. Nick Barstad, Levi Langham, Colton Tucker, Westin Eaves and Caden Throneberry each added a hit for the Sox.
In the National League championship game, the Braves scored six runs in the seventh inning to earn a 15-10 win over the Cardinals.
Sam Daugherty had a 3-for-5, four-RBI effort with a home run in the seventh inning to lead the Braves. Brennan Buckner added a pair of hits, including a homer in the seventh inning as well.
The Cardinals led 6-2 through four innings before the Braves’ bats came alive.
The Braves plated four runs in the fifth inning and added three in the sixth to tie the game at 9-9. The Braves, playing as the visiting team, forged ahead in the seventh inning and then held the Cardinals to just one run in the bottom half of the inning.
Grant McGuire picked up the win for the Braves after working the final 3 1/3 innings. He allowed just two runs on five hits. Daugherty started the game and scattered six hits, while fanning six.
Malik Braston was saddled with the loss for the Cardinals after giving up nine runs in two innings of work.
For the Cardinals, Matthew Meadows homered and was 3-for-4 at the plate. Braston was 3-for-5, while Josh Zidan and Matthew Ross each had a pair of hits. Carson Templeton added one hit.
The Braves got a 3-for-5 performance from Alton McKee. McGuire, Forrest McCreary and Levi Burns had two hits each, while Kayson Carter and Ian Burns each had one hit.