LAKEWOOD RANCH -- After squandering its cushy position as the last remaining unbeaten team in the Intermediate Division of the District 26 Little League All-Star Tournament the day before Monday's winner-take-all game, Braden River's slumbering bats finally awoke.
And the timing couldn't have been more perfect.
Braden River walloped five home runs and scored 11 runs in the final three innings to earn a 15-5 victory over Manatee West at Lakewood Ranch Little League.
The win, which came after the sixth inning due to the 10-run mercy rule, propelled Braden River to the district championship and a berth into this weekend's Section IV tournament at South Brandon Little League.
"We had a few hits the first game. We had two hits against them when we won," Braden River manager Chuck Buckner said. "(Sunday), we had seven errors, gave up 14 unearned runs. Not going to win a ballgame like that. I know what kind of ballclub I've got. I know how they can hit and the pitching has been unbelievable.
"We just decided to start swinging the bats. It was like we could field, but we couldn't hit. Then we could hit, but couldn't field. (Monday), we just put it altogether."
What aided Braden River's onslaught was West's first pitcher leaving the game due to his pitch count reaching capacity. Buckner said the next pitcher threw a little slower. "From there, we were just on fire," Buckner said.
West, which collected five hits, received a home run from Spencer Stevens and held a 5-4 lead after the third inning.
That's when Braden River's bats revved up in producing 11 runs over the final three frames.
Alen Bass (2-for-3), Devin Guzman (2-for-4), Dalton Buckner (2-for-3, home run), Kaleb Quinones (3-for-4, two home runs) and Sammy Martin (3-for-3, two home runs) led Braden River's offense.
In the opening game of the Majors Division, Buffalo Creek put itself in prime position to win the district crown.
Buffalo Creek peeled off an 11-2 victory over Lakewood Ranch to secure the first game of the best-of-three championship series.
The two teams are the lone entrants in this year's 11-12 year old division.
Buffalo Creek fell behind 2-0 after the first inning before a three-run home run by Diego Cardenas gave Buffalo Creek the lead for good.
Matthew Sullivan (2-for-4, home run, double), Josh Lundy (2-for-4), Jacob D'Urso (home run) and Luke Stark (2-for-3, home run, double) all paced the attack. George Davis (2-for-3, home run) led Lakewood Ranch's offense.
Buffalo Creek can clinch the district title when the two teams return to the diamond at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday.
The 10-11 year old division is heading to a winner-take-all contest after Lakewood Ranch avoided elimination with a 7-6 victory over Braden River.
Ranch trailed 5-4 after four innings but plated three runs in the fifth inning and held on for the triumph. Nicholas Hadad (2-for-4, two doubles), John Schroeder (2-for-4, double) and Peter Balos (2-for-3, double) were Ranch's leading hitters.
Braden River left the bases loaded in the sixth inning, which forces the teams into the deciding district title game at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday. Connor Losada (2-for-4, two doubles), Quinn McNulty (home run), Gabriel Lopez (2-for-3) and Noah Lewellen (double) led Braden River's offense.