LUMBERTON — Sammy Shackelford’s Lumberton Machine Pitch team quickly realized how hard it would be to defend its territory as a host team at the Dixie Youth World Series on Saturday.
The team dropped its first pool play matchup 23-0 to Tennessee before ending the day with a 13-3 loss to Virginia. Despite the lopsided scores, Shackelford had some positive takeaways from the first day of the tournament, which is being held at the Dr. Raymond B. Pennington Athletic Complex.
“I saw some good things, I saw some not-so-good things,” Shackelford said. “I think we had a little bit of nerves, but I’m proud of them overall.”
Lumberton will now compete in the consolation bracket on Sunday. They will play against North Carolina at 1 p.m..
Lumberton fell behind early in its first game when Tennessee’s Bear Pulley hit an RBI double in the first inning. A two-RBI single by Jordan Whitehead increased Tennessee’s lead to 3-0 headed to the second frame
The host team surrendered seven more runs in the third inning, and a 13-run barrage by Tennessee in the fourth inning was enough to bring in the mercy rule.
Lumberton loaded the bases in the second inning, but the last couple of batters in the frame failed to make contact and potentially put their team on the scoreboard.
Tennessee had 11 of its 12 players score at least one run in the game. Pulley and Klayton Burgett scored four runs apiece.
The game against Virginia featured a more stable defensive effort by Lumberton, but their opponents rallied after the first couple of innings to keep them out of striking distance.
Shackelford’s team was placed in the Machine Pitch tournament after losing in a playoff game with the other top Coach Pitch finisher from the Lumberton Youth Baseball Association.
Batters in the Machine Pitch tournament are faced with faster pitches than in the Coach Pitch group, but Shackelford said that adjustment wasn’t a factor affecting his team’s play on Saturday.
“I think it was more defensive plays that were the difference,” Shackelford said. “We’ve got to make plays in the field. There were too many errors.”
Tennessee and Virginia, the only other teams in Lumberton’s pool, advanced to the tournament’s eight-team championship bracket. Tennessee won both of its games on Saturday while Virginia split its two matchups.
Shackelford said he is looking for improvement when his team takes the field again on Sunday.
“We didn’t play too bad. They may not have as many jitters, and hopefully they’ll be a little more relaxed,” Shackelford said. “That’s what I’m hoping for.”