MARGATE - Bill Kral blasted a two-run home run to center field Monday night.
The home run gave the Margate the District 16 Little League baseball championship for ages 11-12.
Kral rounded the bases with a smile and one worry.
"I was hoping I didn't trip," he said.
Margate beat Linwood 12-2 to win the championship. Kral's home run came in the fifth inning and ended the game because it gave Margate a 10-run lead. Kral, 12, also was the winning pitcher. He struck out six and allowed just three hits, none over the final three innings.
"This is great," Kral said. "We've been working hard."
The district championship is the first step toward the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pa. Margate advances to the Section 4 tournament, which starts Monday in North Vineland.
Margate took control in the bottom of the first inning when it sent 13 hitters to the plate and scored nine runs on five hits.
Drew Gallagher hit a two-run double. John Bee knocked in two runs with a single to right field. Nick West and Isaac Robertson each had an RBI single.
Margate had looked shaky in the top of first, committing an error and allowing Linwood to score two runs.
"That was huge," Gallagher said of the nine runs Margate scored in the first. "It was awesome."
In the fifth, Kral came to the plate with no outs and Gallagher on first base.
Kral wasn't thinking home run.
"If I was dreaming of it, it wouldn't have happened," he said.
Once Kral connected, there was no doubt it was a home run. The ball soared over the fence and landed in center field of the adjacent Babe Ruth field.
"My life flashed before my eyes," Kral said.
The players rushed to home plate to greet Kral after his game-ending home run.
Margate is one of the smallest Little Leagues in the district with about 20 12-year-olds in its league, according to coach Yogi Hiltner. The district title was Margate's first in the 11-12 age bracket since 2001 and its 11th under Hiltner.
"It's always great for the kids to win a district title and being the smallest town makes it that more special," Hiltner said. "This group has been together since they were 8 or 9 years old."
The championship also came in the final home game for Hiltner, the team's manager for 44 years.
Many players from past Margate teams, including the 1980 group that won the state championship, attended the game.
After the games, the current and past generations mixed on the field.
The current players posed for a picture with the district title banner. Past players posed for a group picture with Hiltner near the pitcher's mound.
"I've coached 1,200 games," Hiltner, 62, said with a smile. "I'm done."
Linwood 200 00-2 3 2
Margate 910 02-12 7 1
WP-Kral. 2B-Gallagher M. Ruane L. HR-Kral M.
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