Lumber River squandered a four-run lead, jumped up by one on a late-game homer and let the game-tying runner find third base in the bottom of the seventh before closing the books on a 6-5 win over Tennessee on Monday to win the Southeast Regional championship series and clinch a spot in the Babe Ruth World Series.
Austin Jones provided the go-ahead home run with a deep solo shot over right centerfield to give Lumber River a 6-5 edge in the top of the seventh.
“We just had to hold them after that,” Lumber River coach Carl Nephew said.
Pembroke’s 15U sluggers did just that, but not before a brief scare.
Lumber River pitcher Cody Locklear provided the relief in more ways than one.
With Tennessee’s tying run on third and two outs on the board, Locklear struck out the ensuing batter for the game’s final out.
“We called two sliders, back-to-back, and he was able to strike out the kid,” Nephew said. “It was great. The last pitch hooked just right and basically froze the kid. That was really sweet.”
Nephew said his team proceeded to swarm the mound and dog-pile on Locklear.
“That said it all,” Nephew said of his team’s emotions regarding a World Series-berth. “They were ecstatic. It’s exciting. The whole tournament was a great experience.”
Lumber River, which fell to Tennessee by a 6-2 tally on Sunday to force a decisive championship game Monday, revived its hitting and jumped out to a 4-0 early lead.
“We looked pretty good. Everything looked like it was going well,” Nephew said. “We were just hitting shots, gap shots.”
Tennessee, however, responded with power of its own, belting consecutive two-run homers in the third and fourth innings to even the count at 4-all.
The two teams tied once again at 5-5 to put the game at a stalemate heading into the seventh. There, it was Lumber River who rose to the occasion.
“We’re the first (Pembroke) team to ever advance to the (Babe Ruth) world series — this is a really big thing for us,” Nephew said.
He went on to thank the county park and recreation, the county commission, the Lumbee Tribe and the community for their continued support.
The Babe Ruth World Series begin Aug. 18 in Van Buren, Ark.
Lumberton Border Belt looking to stay alive
PURCELLVILLE, Va. — After outscoring the competition 29-7 through two games against Virginia clubs — an 11-1 win over Manassas and 18-6 rout of Loudoun — the Lumberton Border Belt team suffered its first loss in the 14U Southeast Regional tournament Monday.
Despite a four-run rally in the seventh inning, Border Belt was topped by North Florida, 8-5.
Lumberton, however, is far from finished.
Lumberton Border Belt faces the winner of Loudoun and Alabama at 4 p.m. today. The winner of Border Belt and Loudoun or Alabama will go on to play North Florida in a Southeast Regional championship series for a ticket to the Babe Ruth World Series.
Reach Sports editor Kaleb Roedel at 910-272-6111 or firstname.lastname@example.org