LUMBERTON — Virginia Machine Pitch coach Brian Nowlin had his team prepared for a variety of situations before the Dixie Youth World Series at the Ray Pennington Athletic Complex. Playing in the rain on a muddy, slick field wasn’t one of them.
No one was ready for the storm that engulfed Lumberton for most of Monday afternoon and hampered the third day of the World Series, but Nowlin’s team was able to fight through it after finding themselves on the brink of elimination. Virginia won two of its three games on Monday, including two games in the Machine Pitch losers bracket to keep their tournament run alive.
“We had only played in one bad weather game the entire season,” Nowlin said. “We were concerned about it, but they came through.”
Virginia started the day with its first game in the eight-team Machine Pitch championship bracket, which was postponed from Sunday due to inclement weather. They lost to South Carolina 12-3 and ended up one loss away from elimination in the losers bracket.
They recovered with a 5-0 victory over Texas before wrapping up the day with an 11-5 win over Tennessee.
That last game left an impression on Nowlin.
“This is probably the best game we’ve played,” Nowlin said. “We started off a little slow. We come from a small town. They were a little overwhelmed to start out with, but they started to play better each game.”
Gage Parks, Chad Mattox, Colt Camp, Evan Powell, Vaden Liles and Christopher Walker notched two hits apiece for Virginia against Tennessee. Parks, Mattox and Powell also scored two runs apiece.
Colton Connally, Jordan Whitehead, Bryson Seagroves, Wesley Dorris, Chris Bartley, Carter Pass and Rylan Sherer all recorded at least two hits for Tennessee. Seagroves led the way with three hits.
Tennessee had won its first game in the championship bracket before losing to to Florida 12-7. The loss to Virginia eliminated them from the tournament.
Tennessee coach Josh Pulley said the bad weather wasn’t as much of a factor as his team’s play early in its loss to Virginia.
“As for the nastiness, both teams had to play in it,” Pulley said. “I think our kids kind of liked playing in the rain and mud.”
Pulley said he hopes his team’s experience in the World Series will motivate his five returners to improve for next year’s tournament.
“They weren’t riding the coattails,” Pulley said of those returners. “They were leading the way.”
More thunderstorms are in the forecast for the tournament’s final day on Tuesday.
Reach Brandon Tester at 910-816-1989 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @BrandonTester.