After opening with two big wins in the Age 9-10 Little League District 8 Tournament, the Upper Keys all-stars slipped against a strong Homestead squad Monday, losing 11-4.
That gives the Upper Keys a 2-1 record through round-robin play and sends the island squad on the road to a district semifinal game in Miami Springs at 7 p.m. Thursday.
Homestead (3-0) will be the home team at the Key Largo Community Park at 7 p.m. Thursday, facing North Miami's Age 9-10 team in the other district semifinal.
An Upper Keys win at Miami Springs would see the Keys stars return to their home field in Key Largo for the district title game at 11 a.m. Sunday.
The Upper Keys squad opened the South Pool of the Age 9-10 tournament June 26 by shutting out Kendall, 10-0, with a sterling pitching and defensive effort.
The team's offense erupted for five runs off four hits in the third inning. Kevin Mendoza and Lucas Webb each singled in runs, with Noah Butler and Dominic DiMaggio reaching base on singles. Brian Lesko delivered an RBI sacrifice.
The Keys added one run in the fourth inning. Butler's RBI triple was the big hit in a four-run fifth.
On Saturday, the Keys swamped Doral, 34-2, in four innings. The Keys sent 21 batters to the plate in the first inning, scoring 15 runs and effectively putting the game away.
Starter Jacob Horne got the pitching decision, with three pitchers throwing relief. Mendoza, the Keys third baseman, tripled and singled twice to lead the lineup.
Evan Tiedemann and Jonathan Bradman each doubled and singled, while Tyler Rodriguez and Horne each singled twice.
That set the stage for a meeting of two 2-0 teams Monday. Homestead had defeated Kendall, 10-0, and Doral, 20-3.
After a short delay waiting for thunderstorms to pass, Homestead jumped out to a 6-0 lead and held off the Keys hitters to stay undefeated.
Jack Butler, Karl Jones and Brian Tiedemann coach the Keys team.
The Key Largo Community Park also is hosting the South Pool of District 8's Age 11-12 tournament, beginning July 1.
The Upper Keys team in that group, also known as the Majors, was scheduled to play Kendall on Tuesday in the opener (results pending at press time). The Keys club then takes on Doral at 10 a.m. Saturday and Homestead at 7 p.m. July 7.
In the Age 11-12 division, the round-robin ranks teams for South Pool semifinal games July 9 in Key Largo. Winners advance to the district semifinals July 11.