Team Georgia still fighting for title

Published 2:48 pm Tuesday, August 8, 2017

By Kevin Eckleberry

OXFORD, Ala. – They’ve been here before.

In the Dixie Youth Baseball state tournament, the Troup National 11-12-year-old all-stars were facing elimination after a hard-fought loss to Seminole County.

Troup National returned to the field in Roberta later that same day facing a must-win situation against Manchester, and it rolled to victory.

The following weekend, Troup National ran off four consecutive wins to capture the state championship.

Now, the same group of players are staring down elimination one again.

Troup National, or team Georgia as it became after winning the state title, fell to North Carolina 7-0 on Monday night in the Dixie Youth Baseball World Series at Choccolocco Park in Oxford, Ala.

Georgia will look to keep its championship hopes alive when it faces Arkansas at 5 p.m.

The winner will advance in the tournament, while the loser will see its summer come to a close.

Georgia head coach Curt Longshore, who has been guiding this team since it was formed more than two months ago, offered the players some encouraging words following Monday’s tough loss.

“The first team from Troup County to ever win the World Series lost their very first game, and they battled all the way back,” Longshore said. “The odds aren’t as good being in the loser’s bracket, but we had to battle our way back at state, just to qualify for that following weekend, and we ended up winning it.

“This team, they seem to respond when they face adversity. I expect we’re going to come out tomorrow, and we may or may not win it, but I know we’ll give everything we can.”

Georgia opened the World Series with a 3-0 victory over Louisiana on Saturday, with Colton Esposito and Steven Hill combining for the one-hit shutout.

Georgia and North Carolina were supposed to play on Sunday, but the game was rained out.

They were finally able to play on Monday night, and North Carolina jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning.

It remained tight most of the way, but North Carolina broke it open with four runs in the sixth and final inning.

Georgia had scoring chances throughout the game, but it was unable to break through against three North Carolina pitchers.

Trevor Booton did an outstanding job in relief for Georgia.

He entered the game with the bases loaded and no outs in the first inning, and one run already in.

Booton got three straight groundouts and limited North Carolina to one additional run, and Georgia was down 2-0.

Booton held North Carolina to one more run before leaving the game with two outs in the fourth, and Preston Pressley got a strikeout to end the inning and keep it a 3-0 game.

That’s the way it remained until North Carolina’s four-run outburst in the sixth inning that was highlighted by a three-run home run.

Georgia had at least one base runner in all but one inning.

In the bottom of the first, Esposito reached on an infield single, but he was left stranded.

In the third inning, Rocky Pemberton and Jimmie Jackson reached on walks, but Georgia was unable to bring a run home.

Dallas Pearson was hit by a pitch in the fourth inning, and Booton had a lead-off single in the fifth inning, but Georgia couldn’t put a run on the scoreboard.

Georgia’s final opportunity came in the bottom of the sixth inning.

Pemberton reached on a one-out single, and Pearson walked with two outs, and they both moved up on a wild pitch.

With men on second and third, North Carolina’s pitcher got a strikeout to end it.

Georgia will look to find some offensive success today when it plays an Arkansas team that is also 1-1.“If we’re going down, we’re going down swinging,” Longshore said.

“But,” he added. “I ain’t ready to go home.”