After the sting of losing to Alabama state champ Fairhope 6-4 Wednesday in the championship round of the Dixie Baseball Junior Boys (13s) World Series wears off, the Bossier City All-Stars will have a lot of fond memories to look back on.
Bossier City lost to Texas state champ Brownsville 5-0 in the first round and then reeled off four straight victories in do-or-die elimination games at Tinsley Park. It’s unlikely any of the players will ever forget the dramatic 10-9 victory over Hattiesburg, Miss., in the semifinals, a game in which BC rallied from three runs down going into the seventh.
“I don’t know that I’ve been more proud of any other team than I’ve been of this team,” Bossier City manager Dustin Brandon said. “Losing the first game and coming all the way back the way they did, and being down in the semifinal game and winning against a quality Hattiesburg team. That was an extremely impressive win there.”
Brandon said the key to success was the players were able to adapt to the various situations you generally see in Dixie World Series tournaments.
“All these pitchers are different and hitting is about making adjustments and we were able to make the appropriate adjustments that we needed to make in order to execute,” he said. “That made the difference in whether we were able to be successful or not, and this group of kids was able to do that.”
Bossier City had to rally in two of its four wins. Wednesday’s game against Fairhope was no exception. Fairhope led 3-0 after 2.5 innings.
BC scored its first run in the bottom of the third. Triston Hargrave walked then stole second and third. He scored on a passed ball.
BC tied it with two runs in the fourth. Connor Blank smacked a one-out triple that hit the bottom of the left-field wall and scored on James Ross’ single. With two outs, Noah Littleton doubled to deep left field, scoring Ross from first.
Bossier City put runners on first and second in the fifth but couldn’t advance them. Fairhope left two on in the sixth.
Fairhope broke the tie in the top of the seventh, scoring three runs on two singles, a walk and an error.
Bossier City didn’t go down quietly. Hargrave tripled with one out and scored on Clayton Brandon’s sacrifice fly. David Favrot hit a line drive between second and third, but Fairhope shortstop Gatlin Pitts made a leaping catch to secure the championship for his team.
Fairhope’s Josh Gunther pitched an outstanding game, allowing four hits and striking out six in 6 1/3 innings. John Malone got the final two outs after Gunther reached his maximum pitch count.
Mikael Bryant went 3-for-4. Pitts had two hits.
Bossier City starting pitcher Matthew Buckner also pitched a strong game. He scattered eight hits over 6 innings. Favor pitched the final inning, allowing one hit.
Bossier City rallied twice in the thrilling semifinal win over Hattiesburg. BC scored three runs in the top of the sixth to overcome a 4-2 deficit. After Hattiesburg answered with four in the bottom of the inning, the host team put five on the board in the top of the seventh.
Hattiesburg cut the lead to one with two outs in the seventh and had runners at second and third. Myles Green hit a grounder to Ross at third base. He made a perfect throw to first baseman Sergio Delgado, who stretched to make the catch just before Green reached the bag.
Tyler Ferguson started Bossier City’s seventh with a heads up play. He hustled to first on a swinging third strike when the ball got away from the Hattiesburg catcher, who apparently thought it was a foul ball and didn’t attempt a throw.
After a short discussion among the umpires, Ferguson remained at first but not for long. He advanced to second on Favrot’s walk and scored on Brendan Burns’ triple. Favrot also scored to cut Fairhope’s lead to 8-7.
Burns scored on a passed ball to tie the game. After Ross drew a walk, Blank was hit by a pitch with two outs. Hargrave walked to load the bases. Brandon walked, scoring Ross. Blank scored the final run on a passed ball, making it 10-8.
Bossier City had only four hits in the game, but it played opportunistic baseball, taking advantage of 11 walks. Preston Cooper, Blank and Hargrave all had singles.
Burns and Ross had two RBI each. Brandon, Cooper and Hargrave had one apiece.
Riley Sitter and Luke Bloxom also contributed to Bossier City’s success in the tournament. Dustin Brandon’s assistant coaches were Chance Nerren, Todd Littleton and Craig Ross.
Burns allowed five hits and no earned runs in five innings of relief. He struck out seven. Burns threw 82 pitches, 58 of which were strikes.
Walker Long had two of Hattiesburg’s eight hits.
Dyersburg, Tenn., defeated West Seminole, Fla., 4-0 two win the Dixie Baseball Boys (14s) championship.
Dyersburg, West Seminole and Lancaster all had one loss after Tuesday’s action. West Seminole received the bye into the championship game, and Dyersburg defeated Lancaster, S.C., 13-0 in the semifinals Wednesday morning.
The tournament, which began Friday night with the opening ceremonies, went off without a hitch. It brought well over 1,000 people into Bossier City.
“It went very well,” tournament director Robert Kyle, the head of Bossier Dixie Baseball, said. “We didn’t have any hiccups really. We didn’t have rain luckily this year. Everything was smooth. The opening ceremonies went well. The city workers were here 24/7 taking care of everything.
“We got compliments from every team that talked to us. Everybody was happy. Everybody loves the facilities. Bossier has great facilities and we’re glad to showcase that to the 11 states of Dixie Baseball.”
Tournament officials praised the community-wide effort to put on the World Series during the Junior Boys post-game ceremony. They presented Kyle and Bossier Parish Parks and Recreation directory Clay Bohanan a plaque in recognition of their hard work.
Bossier City and Tinsley Park last hosted the event in 2014. During the ceremony, a Dixie Baseball official said he hoped Bossier City would ask to host again.
Kyle hopes to see that happen, but it may not be in the near future. “It’s hard to do this more than every four years,” he said. “It takes time to recover and it takes time to plan the next one.”
— Russell Hedges, firstname.lastname@example.org