Georgia fighting hard in World Series
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
The Georgia all-stars, after winning back-to-back extra-inning thrillers in the Dixie Youth Baseball World Series, fell to North Carolina 6-4 on Tuesday night in Ruston, La.
Georgia, which is 3-1 in the tournament, will face Florida today in an elimination game.
Only four of the original 12 teams are still alive in the tournament.
Trailing 5-0 in Tuesday’s game, Georgia got within two at one point, but it was unable to overcome the early deficit.
Georgia was hoping to build on its two dramatic extra-inning wins.
On Sunday, Georgia improved to 2-0 in the World Series with a 2-0 extra-inning victory over Alabama.
Georgia did it again on Monday, rallying to beat Louisiana 5-4 in extra innings.
Trailing 4-3, Georgia pushed a run across in the sixth inning to tie it before winning it in the bottom of the seventh.
In Monday’s game, Rob Skinner’s two-out RBI single in the bottom of the sixth tied it and forced extra innings.
In the bottom of the sixth, Luke Taylor got things started with an infield single with one out.
Taylor scored the winning run when Cooper Stephens’ hard-hit grounder was misplayed by the third baseman, and the celebration was on.
After the game, head coach Ron Wilson let the players know he and the other coaches “appreciated the fight that they had, and that never-give-up-type attitude.”
Wilson was proud of the way the players bounced back after running into some trouble earlier in the game.
“We kind of started losing our composure some in the middle innings, and we got them all together and we reminded of when we started this journey a couple of months ago about how the running that they’d put in, and all the sore muscles, and the sweat that had put out, it had come to this, this point right here,” Wilson said. “That’s why we did all that. Don’t give up now.
“You’re invested. So, when you have that much invested, it’s hard to give up. We just reminded them of that, and it kind of turned us around. We got a second wind.”
Both extra-inning wins came against exceptional teams.
Alabama hadn’t lost a game all summer including the district and state tournaments and the World Series.
Louisiana, meanwhile, won the World Series title a year ago.
“We didn’t tell them much about Alabama. We didn’t tell them that they were undefeated,” Wilson said. “They didn’t realize that Louisiana was the defending Dixie Youth champions. So, two games that have gone into extra innings, and to knock off two teams with the stature that they have, it speaks volumes about our guys, and how good of a team we have. I know there’s still a question of if we’re the team to win it all, but it makes us feel very good about the guys that we have.”
In the Louisiana game, Rob Skinner came through with the clutch base hit to keep Georgia alive.
Skinner is one of the team leaders, and Wilson recalls a conversation he had with assistant coach Dusty Hubbard during the state tournament.
“Coach Hubbard, after our first weekend at the state tournament, did something that I feel was a game-changer for the team,” Wilson said. “He pulled Rob Skinner to the side. He didn’t have the best weekend that first weekend. And he just let Rob know that, look, if you don’t perform well, the team will not perform well. And kind of just rested it on Rob’s shoulders. Rob has responded so well to that. He really scooped it up, and he ran with it, and he’s the leader that we thought he could be.”
After pitcher Kaden Carlisle set Louisiana down in the top of the seventh, Georgia had a chance to win it in the bottom of the inning.
With one out, Luke Taylor was in an 0-2 hole in the count when he grounded the ball to the left side of the infield and made it to first for the base hit.
“You could see the determination in his face coming down the line that he was not going to get thrown out,” Wilson said.
With two outs, Wilson sent Logan Cammon up as a pinch-hitter, and he walked.
After Taylor and Cammon both moved up a base on a wild pitch, Stephens stepped to the plate and came through the game-winning hit.
Bryce Hubbard, Cooper Stephens and Kaden Carlisle combined to get the job done on the mound for Georgia.