AUGUSTA — Apple Valley manager Dan Dion took a calculated risk in pitching Brian Hewitt in Monday night’s championship game at the Babe Ruth state tournament for 13-15-year-olds.

Hewitt had already thrown complete games Thursday and Saturday in the tournament and Apple Valley had several capable pitchers ready to go, but Hewitt was Dion’s choice against Tri-County.

“We’re deep in pitching, we have six pitchers,” Dion said. “But he’s been our No. 1 for three years. (He’s had) no arm issues, none at all.”

The decision paid off as Hewitt spun a five hitter in a 5-2 victory to push Apple Valley into the New England Babe Ruth tournament, beginning Thursday in Lynn, Massachusetts.

Hewitt grew stronger as the game went on, recording four of seven strikeouts over the final three innings. He evened weathered a half hour lightning delay while pitching to the first batter in the seventh inning.

“My arm felt better than it had so far since the all-star break, the 6-foot-3 right-hander said. “I’m used to it. I’ve been doing this for the last five years. I’d pitch a full game, rest a day and pitch another full game.”

His teammates helped him out with some timely defense and 10 hits.

“Our offense has been coming alive,” Dion said. “We get here earlier than any other team by at least an hour and we take advantage of the batting cages not being used.”

Hewitt nearly escaped the first inning with just six pitches but a two-out error led to 18 more pitches and an unearned run. He finished with 102 pitches and four walks and his defense came around, turning a 5-4-3 double play after Tri-County opened the sixth inning with a base on balls.

“I was very pleased with that play by my team,” Hewitt said.

Tri-County starter Colton Carson was hurt by errors in the first and third innings that led to unearned runs, but Apple Valley also came through with some timely hits. Jared Beckwith turned one when he doubled home two runs off reliever Garrett Garbarini in the top of the seventh inning to make it 5-1.

“I played against him in Little League and I knew I could hit him,” Beckwith said. “I wanted more runs on the board and I just got up there and hit the second pitch and put it out there.”

Leadoff hitter Jackson Ladd added two hits for Apple Valley while Cam Brockett had a pair for Tri-County.

Apple Valley finished runner-up to Augusta in the district tournament and was the last team to be included in the state tournament.

“I’m excited (reaching the New Englands),” Hewitt said. “It’s going to be a new experience. I’m excited with it being my last year of all-stars so I’m just going to take it all in when I get there.”

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