Brian Lawson says he was nervous when he was moved to pitcher in the second inning of Reston National's game against SYA East in the Virginia Little League State Championship game Thursday night at Freedom Park in Leesburg.
Lawson was brought in after SYA East, the 2010 state champs from Centreville, scored three runs in the first and then had back-to-back homers off starting pitcher Brendan Grammes to take a 5-1 lead in the second.
However, Lawson's nerves didn't show on offense or defense. He hit two second-inning home runs for six RBI and threw 85 pitches as Reston beat SYA East 14-9, winning the state Majors title and a trip to the Southeastern Regional in Warner Robins, GA.
"Brian Lawson was phenomenal," Reston manager Jeff Grammes said. "He had been by all accounts - even his - struggling at the plate, but he came in and hit two home runs and got us out of trouble. I can't express how proud I am of him."
Lawson's two-run homer and a grand slam helped move Reston from a 5-1 deficit to a 10-5 lead.
"I was really nervous," Lawson said. "Not only were we down 5-1, I knew I had to keep the ball away from the one kid who I knew could crush it."
SYA scored three runs on two hits in the top of the first, then left fielder Steven Kirk and center fielder Tyler Gambone led off the second with a home run each for SYA's 5-1 lead.
After Lawson's first homer, Brendan Grammes then walked with the bases loaded, scoring Patrick Francisco and bringing Reston to within a run. Two batters later, Max Kidd walked with the bases loaded, bringing in another run to tie it at 5.
Reston, District 4 champs, went ahead in the second when Zander Bohnslav hit a single with one out. Two batters later, Lawson hit his grand-slam and Reston led 10-5.
Even after his team drenched him with the celebratory cooler of ice water, Jeff Grammes still seemed a little stunned to be planning a trip to the next level for the 11- and 12-year-old all stars.
"I really cannot believe we just won the state championship," he said. "This is something these kids are going to remember and cherish for the rest of their lives. This was a full team effort for seven games in Districts and five games at states. You never know what you are going to get with this team.
"My older son asked me last night 'six weeks ago, what percentage would you have given this team of being in the state finals?' I told him 'zero percent.' This team continues to amaze me. We continue to get better."
Reston will open Southeastern Championship pool play Friday, Aug. 5 against South Carolina.
SYA East, champions of District 10, had only two members from the 2010 championship team on the 2011 team. The 2010 squad went 2-2 at the Southeastern Regionals.
Reston National Roster: