Heading into the championship game of the 11-12-year-old Little League Baseball District 1 Tournament, Owensboro Southern had not allowed a run in five games.
That changed quickly on Thursday.
Longtime rival Bowling Green East struck for three first-inning runs and never looked back in a 3-1 victory over Southern before a huge crowd at Country Heights Elementary School.
BG East will advance to the Kentucky Little League State Tournament, set to begin next Friday in Prestonsburg.
"They came out and scored some runs early," Southern manager Matt Evans said, "and their pitcher (Evan Schallert) threw the ball well. He kept us off-balance and just did an outstanding job.
"When we got hits, we weren't able to follow that up -- today, we just didn't have it at the plate."
In the top of the first inning, Schallert helped his own cause with a leadoff single. One out later, Jameson Napper clubbed an RBI double to make it 1-0. William Alexander walked and, one out later, Grayson Newman's two-run single made it 3-0.
"Southern hadn't given up a run in the entire tournament," veteran Bowling Green East manager Rick Kelley said, "so it was huge for us to be able to put three on the board in the first inning.
"It gave (Schallert) a tremendous amount of confidence to step out there with a three-run lead."
Southern scored its lone run in the second inning on a double-play grounder off the bat of Carter Kimmel, after loading the bases with no one out on singles by Grayson Smith, Keagyn Rhinerson and Sean Gray.
"That double play kind of took away our momentum at the time," Evans said. "That was big."
Over the last four innings, Schallert and impressive Southern reliever Will Rickard were up to the task -- putting nothing but zeros on the board.
After a pinch-hit single by Jax Malone with two out in the fourth, Schallert retired the final seven Southern batters in order.
"Evan was very good," Kelley said of his righthander. "He went out there and got the job done for us.
"This was a great Little League game between two great teams -- it always seems to come down to our team and Southern in the district."
Barrett Evans led Southern with a pair of singles.
Newman reached base three times for BG East, going 2-for-2 with a pair of RBIs. Napper doubled twice, with an RBI and a run scored, and Schallert added two singles.
BOWLING GREEN EAST 300-000 -- 3-6-1
OWENSBORO SOUTHERN 010-000 -- 1-6-0