THOMASTON - A year ago, the Troup National 9-10-year-old all-stars were on the doorstep of a district championship.
Troup National made it through to the championship round of the tournament, but it was denied the title after losing back-to-back games to Thomaston.
Flash forward a year, and many of the players who were on that 2013 team were back in the championship game of the Dixie Youth Baseball district tournament.
This time, they made sure the district championship would belong to them.
After watching a six-run lead disappear on Thursday night, Troup National rallied for four runs in the top of the sixth inning to claim a 10-8 victory over Hogansville.
Troup National finished district play with a 4-0 record, and it secured one of the district’s two invitations to the state tournament.
“Neither team wanted to lose either game. Unfortunately, somebody had to lose,” Troup National coach Charles Mosley said. “We both played well. All these kids played hard.”
For awhile, it looked like Troup National would enjoy a fairly suspense-free victory.
After breaking through for six runs in the top of the third inning, with Zack Thompson doing a lot of the damage with a three-run double, Troup National held a 6-0 lead.
That lead, it turns out, was far from safe.
Hogansville scored three runs in the fourth inning, and three more runs in the fifth inning to pull even.
Troup National had plenty of fight left in it, though.
After watching Hogansville push three runs across in the bottom of the fifth to tie the game at 6-6, Troup National responded with a four-run outburst in the top of the sixth to reclaim the lead.
Token Conaway and Thompson each had RBI singles in the inning.
Even with a four-run lead, Mosley wasn’t exactly resting easy after what happened earlier in the game.
“I was never comfortable,” he said.
Hogansville did make things interesting in the bottom of the sixth by scoring two runs, but Conaway, Troup National’s catcher, threw a prospective base stealer out to end the game, and the tournament.
Troup National’s players stormed the field to celebrate what they came so close to winning a year ago.
“The majority of them were on that team,” Mosley said. “They kept fighting. I’m proud of them.”
Thompson pitched into the sixth inning to get the victory.
“I think he threw almost 120 pitches,” Mosley said. “It was a great job.”
After a leadoff walk in the sixth, Chase Williams came into the game and got the save.
The first two innings were scoreless, but Troup broke things open with the six-run third inning.
Trey Hartley led off with a walk, and he moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Jacob Bearden.
Two batters later, Williams came through with a two-out single to put the game’s first run on the board.
Daniel Martin kept the inning alive with a base hit, and after Conaway was hit by a pitch to load the bases, Brett Haynes legged out an infield single to make it 2-0.
That brought Thompson to the plate, and with the bases loaded, he came through with a double to drive in three runs, and the lead was up to 5-0.
Tre Mosley capped the rally with an RBI single.
By the time Troup came to bat in the top of the sixth inning, though, that lead had disappeared.
Troup National needed to answer Hogansville’s rally, and it did.
Jacob Bearden and T.J. Wilkerson led off with back-to-back walks, and Williams’ bunt single loaded the bases.
Martin put Troup back on top with a sacrifice fly, and Conaway followed with an RBI single to make it an 8-6 game.
An RBI groundout by Haynes extended the lead to three, and Thompson’s run-scoring single gave Troup National a 10-6 lead.
After Hogansville’s comeback bid fell short in the bottom of the sixth, Troup National had the win and the tournament title.
“It’s an amazing group of kids, and parents,” Mosley said.