Little Leaguer Mark Doolin didn't waste the chance to redeem his team in the bottom of the second inning of the last regular season game for 8-, 9- and 10-year-olds.
Doolin and his Hayden Blue Jays were locked in a tie with the Bulldogs, a Craig team sponsored by Camilletti Financial Group. The Blue Jays scored a run on an errant pitch, but the runner was called out after the umpire ruled there was interference by the batter.
Doolin stepped to the plate and hit a line drive deep into right center field but short of the "305" marker on the outfield fence. Doolin rounded all four bases before the Bulldogs could retrieve the ball. He brought in two runs that set the Blue Jays up to clinch the league championship, 4-3.
The Blue Jays will be ranked first heading into next week's league tournament.
Doolin said it was his second homer of the year. He picked a pitch that was a little outside, he said, but was able to drive the ball over the heads of the boys from Craig.
Craig Parks and Recreation Director Dave Pike singled out the game for "Pike's Pick."
"These two teams are the cream of the crop in their age group," Pike said. "It adds to the intensity since they are from Hayden and Craig."
Blue Jays coach Richard "Festus" Hagins said the rivalry was enhanced because some of the boys on opposing teams play together on the Cutthroats Triple Crown team.
"They practice together tomorrow, so I'm sure they'll be talking about this game," Hagins said.
After Doolin's home run, the Bulldogs battled back, making Hayden pitcher Parker Hagins work for every strike. The Bulldogs put two boys on base but left them stranded, ending the inning on two strikeouts.
In the fourth inning, with the bases loaded, the Bulldogs tripled and then secured two walks to load the bases.
Parker Hagins walked two more Craig batters, letting the Bulldogs come within one run at 4-3. But Hagins escaped the inning and struck out a Bulldog batter to capture the win.
Parker Hagins said he had to pull himself together while pitching, knowing the winning run was behind him on second base.
"I was hoping to just get it down the middle," he said.
"He's done that a few times," Festus Hagins said. "He regains his composure and comes back."
Festus Hagins and assistant coach Tim Johnston said they've been eyeing the league championship for several years.
"We were blessed with good pitchers, and that's what it takes at this level," Johnston said.
Bulldog coach Billy Davis said the young team struggled in the final game of regular season, but the players are looking to make up for the loss at next week's tournament.
"The kids played really good," Davis said. "I'm proud of them. They played their hearts out."