World Series: Locals 'Had a Blast'
A taste of national competition right in your own backyard couldn’t have been finer for the Moore County Majors All-Stars.
Although the local squad was knocked from the Dixie Youth Majors Baseball World Series Sunday in a heartbreaking 3-2 loss to South Carolina, the group of 12-and-under players walked away with memories that won’t soon be forgotten, according to head coach Randy Blue.
“It was great,” Blue said. “They had a blast. It’s probably an experience they’ll never forget.”
With all the pomp and pageantry surrounding a well-run national tournament that featured 24 teams from 11 states, the fields at Hillcrest Park have been hopping ever since Friday’s start that featured a home run derby and opening ceremonies at Pinecrest High School.
Despite a wet start to the tournament, which knocked Saturday play into the wee hours of Sunday morning, the double-elimination event is on track to finish with championship games set for Thursday.
The Moore County All-Stars was one of the teams that played into Sunday morning, where it suffered an opening-round loss to the North Carolina Dixie state championhip team from Dunn.
In that opening game, which didn’t end until 12:30 a.m., the All-Stars rode a two-run homer in the bottom of the first inning by Nathan Batalla to get within one, 3-2, after the Dunn team had scored three against All-Star starter Trey Wood in the top of the frame.
The North Carolina team would tag the lefty for one more run in the second, six in the third and two in the fourth to take the 12-2 mercy-rule shortened game that was called after five innings of the schedule six. The All-Stars also committed four errors in the field.
“Trey was tight,” Blue said. “He was struggling all night long. But they (Dunn) are a good hitting team with good pitching.”
Dunn was one of two undefeated teams left in the Majors tournament as of Monday play with a 3-0 mark.
In Sunday’s game, Wood moved to center field and got the All-Stars off to a quick start when he scored a run to put the local team up 1-0 in the top of the first. Meanwhile, Kenneth Christian was holding South Carolina in check, tossing three scoreless innings before the visitors from south of the border took a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the fourth.
But Riley Cameron stepped up to the plate for the All-Stars in the top of the fifth and promptly knotted the score at 2-all with a solo blast over the fence.
Then the killer came in the bottom of the sixth when Wright Sullivan went deep with a walk off homer to give South Carolina the 3-2 win, ending the All-Stars journey in the tourney.
“That big righthander (Christian) was throwing so well,” Blue said. “I was going to take him out, but he was throwing so well that I left him in there. He hit his spots all night long; he just missed on that one pitch and got it out over the middle of the plate.”
But the loss and elimination didn’t dampen the mood of the team.
“We ended on a good note,” Blue said. “We lost a one-run game to a state champion on a walk-off shot in the bottom of the last inning. We walked off that field with our heads held high. I told the kids that it’s been a long two months (ever since they started practicing for the event), but I wouldn’t take $1 million or change anything about any of it. It was just a great experience.”
Blue said that he was up watching games on Monday night and he saw just about every player from his team at Hillcrest Park. Even though they were no longer competing, the local players were soaking up the experience. Blue felt a lot of that had to do with the way the tournament was run and the atmosphere created.
“I have to hand it to the Dixie officials and the (Moore County) parks and rec,” Blue said. “They really made it special for everyone. I know the kids won’t forget it.”
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