The two extra games the Hancock 9-year-old All-Star team had to play finally took its toll Tuesday night at Fleischman Park in Fort Myers.
Facing a tired Hancock pitching crew, South Fort Myers broke the game wide open with an 11-run third-inning blitz to claim a 16-3 victory in the Little League District 9 Tournament championship game. It was Hancock's sixth game in six days and was ended on the mercy rule after four innings.
Connor O'Connell had three hits as every South Fort Myers player scored at least once against Hancock, which had to fight its way out of the loser's bracket after losing a tight one in extra innings Friday to South Fort Myers.
"They hit, they fielded, they pitched, the subs came off the bench, it was a real team effort," said South Fort Myers coach Howard Gold. "We had one of the best games I've ever seen on Friday, but they had to come through the loser's bracket and they were tired."
Hancock already was behind the eight-ball, as it would have had to beat unbeaten South twice to win the championship.
After a quiet first inning, South got things going when Hancock starting pitcher Jacob Mueller had trouble finding the strike zone. Peter Boring had an RBI single, as did O'Connell, to help South open a 5-0 lead.
Hancock responded with a three-run spurt in the second, which was aided by three walks, two wild pitches and Ryan Adams' RBI grounder to cut the lead to 5-3.
South wouldn't let Hancock get closer this time, adding 11 runs in the third, highlighted by Aiden Knaak's two-run single and a grand slam by pinch-hitter Cannon Creighton.
Carson Williams, Jake D'Altrui and Ryan Camron also drove in runs as South hit Hancock's pitching hard.
"We've played the best the other teams had, but hey, it finally got to our guys, but I'm proud of our guys. They played great," said Hancock coach Chip Busbee. "We made a few mistakes and they had some bloop hits."
Rontrez Johnson pitched a scoreless fourth for Hancock.
The game ended a tournament where, beside South Fort Myers, there was a lot of parity among teams from Port Charlotte and Cape National surprising many while power teams like Fort Myers American and Cape American struggled.
"We had a great group of 9-year-olds. We had 10 kids come out and we were lucky they were good kids," Busbee said. "We didn't have the luxury to pick from a wide variety of kids, but I have no complaints."
South Fort Myers had more than 30 kids try out for their team.