New Bern Knocks Sandhills All-Stars from Tourney
The 12-year-old Sandhills Optimist All-Stars traveled to Winterville recently to participate in the Eastern N.C. Cal Ripken state baseball tournament recently, where it won three games before being bounced from the double-elimination event.
The chief thorn in the side of the local team was New Bern. The squad from New Bern defeated Sandhills 12-1 in the opening round, and then handed them a 9-8 loss that removed Sandhills from the tournament.
In between those two games, Sandhills defeated Outer Banks 10-0, Supper Optimist by an 8-7 score and, in another close one, a 6-5 win over Winterville.
The tournament started on a tough note for the Sandhills team when it dropped its opener 12-1 to the New Bern All-Stars. Riley Cameron had the only hit of the game for Sandhills, an RBI single, scoring Ryder Giles, who was put on base after being hit by a pitch. Cameron was selected as the game MVP for Sandhills.
Falling into the losers’ bracket, the Sandhills bats came alive with a huge first inning against the Outer Banks All-Star squad. Alex Contreras and Hogan Windish got things started by reaching on Outer Banks infield errors. Giles walked and Contreras scored on a wild pitch. Cameron and Will Helms each had RBI singles.
Zach Pruitt reached on a fielder’s choice with Ryan Brown following with a RBI single. Lawson Skipper also reached on a fielder’s choice. Contreras batted again in the first and brought in two runs with a hard hit single. Sandhills saw a total of 13 players go to the plate in the inning, and scored eight runs.
Pruitt singled in the second inning, stole second and was awarded third base on a balk but Sandhills couldn’t get the score.
They did pick up two more in the third beginning with a single by Jacob Chrisco. Giles drove in a run and Contreras was awarded home after another balk. The Sandhills All-Stars picked up a 10-0 win in the game shortened to four innings because of the 10-run mercy rule.
Defensively for Sandhills, Helms and Giles shared the mound allowing no runs, 1 hit and one walk. Helms was selected as the game MVP.
In its third game of the tourney, Sandhills met the Supper Optimist Club out of Wilmington. In an exciting matchup the Sandhills All-Stars took an 8-7 victory off the bat of game MVP Chrisco, who hit a fifth inning grand slam homer.
Chandler Barber scored first for Sandhills. He reached on a single and quickly stole second and third. Ryan Brown brought him in with a sacrifice fly to center field. Cameron and Helms had back-to-back singles with Cameron later scoring.
In the second inning, Pruitt and Barber had singles with Cameron driving both of them in with his second hit of the game.
The Supper team took the lead in the fourth inning, scoring five runs and taking a 6-4 lead. They added another run in the fifth to push the lead to 7-4.
Sandhills rallied in the bottom of the fifth, with first batter Helms being walked. He was picked off at first for the first out. Giles delivered a hard hit double and Windish reached on an error by the third baseman. Skipper was walked, loading the bases for Chrisco. With two strikes, he sent his third pitch over the left field fence giving Sandhills the lead.
All Sandhills had left to do was hold on through one more defensive inning which pitcher Giles easily handled.
In what was termed by announcers as the most exciting game of the tournament, Sandhills next faced evenly matched and host team Winterville.
Both teams began with a three-up and three-down first inning. Winterville did have one hit in the top of the second, but Sandhills opened up by scoring two runs.
Cameron doubled and Windish drove him in with a single. Pruitt then delivered an RBI single to drive in Windish.
In the third inning, the two teams again matched each other by scoring four runs each.
Chrisco belted his second homer of the tournament with a solo shot to left field. Contreras singled but got caught in a double play off a line drive hit by Giles. Helms and Cameron both walked and Windish singled. Pruitt drove in two runs with a hard hit single and Brown added another RBI single.
In the fourth, Tyler Andresen reached on an error but neither team was able to score.
In the fifth, Winterville closed the gap to one, beginning with a single by center fielder Jackson Carrier. Catcher Jordan Cox had a double to score Carrier, but Sandhills pitcher Giles was able to end the inning with a strikeout.
Again, Sandhills needed a strong defensive sixth inning to obtain the win. Giles made it look easy with another three-up, three-down effort preserving the 6-5 win for Sandhills. Pruitt received the MVP honors for his performance at the plate.
In an intense matchup to reach the semifinals, Sandhills again met New Bern.
The New Bern team jumped off to a big start, scoring six runs in the first two innings while Chrisco had the only hit for Sandhills.
In the third, Skipper started things off with a single. He was brought in on an RBI single by Giles, finally putting Sandhills on the scoreboard.
Pruitt led off the fourth with a single, Windish was hit by a pitch and Chrisco was walked to load the bases. Skipper reached on a fielder’s choice and Pruitt was able to score.
In the bottom of the fourth, New Bern scored three runs, two of them on a double by catcher Caleb Morris.
The Sandhills All-Stars came back with a big fifth inning, scoring four runs. Andresen was hit by a pitch and then reached second on a passed ball. Pruitt scored Andresen with an RBI single.
Windish was hit by a pitch and Chrisco scored both Pruitt and Windish with a double. He was then able to steal third and scored on an error by the catcher.
In the bottom of the fifth, Giles handled New Bern three-up, three-down, putting Sandhills on a roll while New Bern began to struggle.
Barber started off the top of the sixth with a walk and reached both second and third on wild pitches. Contreras was also walked. Andresen brought Barber and Contreras in with a double to the fence. Giles was hit by a pitch. Pruitt reached on a fielder’s choice.
With New Bern clinging to a 9-8 lead and runners on first and third with two outs, Sandhills had high hopes but was not able to push across the tying run.
Pruitt picked up his second MVP game medal for his offensive efforts. Defensively for Sandhills, Helms, Windish, Ryan Brown, Pruitt, and Giles all had turns on the mound and Will Hart was a wall in left field. Chrisco did a great job behind the plate and assisted in a huge double play.
West Raleigh, who went undefeated in the tournament, earned the state champion honors for the tournament, advancing to the Southeast Regionals slated to be held in Virginia.
More like this story