Robesonian

Winner take all as three teams vie for Dixie Youth Coach Pitch title

LUMBERTON — With its 2-1 victory on Monday night against Louisana, Alabama muddied the waters of the Dixie Youth Coach Pitch World Series at the Ray Pennington Athletic Complex.

Louisiana had previously defeated Alabama earlier in the day en route to entering its second meeting with Alabama on Monday as the only undefeated team in the field. With its back to the wall, Alabama didn’t back down.

“The boys stepped up and played good defense, which you wouldn’t think would happen on a wet field like this, but both teams played good defense,” Alabama coach Josh Suchocki said. “We thought we should’ve had them the first game and started playing sloppy one inning. We didn’t have that inning this time and that was what made the big difference.”

Two runs in the first inning was all that Suchocki’s team needed to get revenge and set up a pair of games for the World Series titles with Alabama, Louisiana and Tennessee on Tuesday.

With each team holding a loss in tournament play, representatives from each team pulled slips of paper out of a hat to decide who gets the bye into Tuesday’s 1 p.m. title game, and which two teams had to earn a spot into the title. Louisiana won the draw and will take on the winner of Alabama and Tennessee, who play at 10:30 a.m.

“I would rather us or Louisiana would get the bye,” Suchocki said moments before the draw.

A pair of RBI singles from Colt Wilson and Mike Woody in the first inning was enough scoring to help Alabama stay alive with its defense giving support throughout.

“We have nine shortstops on our team from the regular season so they are spread out everywhere,” Suchocki said. “They are all hard nosed and don’t make a lot of errors and are really consistent.”

Louisiana scored a run on an error in the bottom of the second and squandered its best chance at tying or winning the game in the bottom of the sixth with the bases loaded, when a screaming ground ball was fielded by Bryson Suchocki and forced the final out at second base.

Woody led all batters in the game with two hits. Alabama’s Liam Bantau, Gregory Rauch, Ethan Levanda, Tyler Surles and Beckham Duncan each had one hit. Louisiana’s Dalen Powell, Austin Lee, Aidan Adams, Casen Willis, Tristan Nassar, Clarence Menyweather and Jack Smith each had a hit in the game.

This game came on the heels of Louisiana taking the meeting of the last two undefeated teams in the field over South Carolina 7-1 earlier in the day.

After posting 37 runs in the first three games of the tournament, South Carolina’s offense was stifled on Monday with four combined runs in its two losses. The quiet game in South Carolina’s first loss came courtesy of the the Louisiana infield that turns ground balls into outs with regularity.

“Our kids just play with a whole lot of attitude and effort,” Louisiana coach Hunter Smith said. “If they can do that, we will be fine. They are starting to come together as a unit.”

Four runs to take the lead early came off a fielder’s choice in the first inning, while three came via an error in the top of the second inning. Three insurance runs came in the top of the sixth with Powell’s RBI single highlighting the scoring in the frame.

“We’re just going to take it one game at a time, one pitch at a time, one inning at a time, one at-bat at a time and try to win each one of those,” Smith said. “If we can put some of those together and string them together, we’ve got a pretty good defense we feel like we will be in good shape.”

Powell led all the Louisiana bats in the game with two hits.

South Carolina’s Braden Dunlap had a pair of hits in the loss.

Tennessee moved into Tuesday’s title picture with a 5-3 win over South Carolina in a win-or-go-home contest for both teams.

In the top of the fifth inning, the Volunteer state champions scored five runs to come back from a 3-0 deficit and eliminate the powerful offense of South Carolina. Five consecutive hits from Tennessee in the fifth inning plated the five runs in the rally. Bryce Williams had two hits in the win.

Brandon Tester | The Robesonian Louisiana Coach Pitch’s Jack Smith tosses a ball in from the outfield on Monday. Smith and the rest of the Louisiana state champions have a bye into Tuesday’s 1 p.m. championship game.
https://www.robesonian.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/web1_CoachChamp-SC-vs-LOU-4_ne201873016342266-1.jpgBrandon Tester | The Robesonian Louisiana Coach Pitch’s Jack Smith tosses a ball in from the outfield on Monday. Smith and the rest of the Louisiana state champions have a bye into Tuesday’s 1 p.m. championship game.
Brandon Tester | The Robesonian
Alabama’s Levi Summers crosses home to score one of the two runs in the 2-1 win over Louisiana.
https://www.robesonian.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/web1_BrandonDixie6_ne2018730212936398-1.jpgBrandon Tester | The Robesonian
Alabama’s Levi Summers crosses home to score one of the two runs in the 2-1 win over Louisiana.
Three teams vie for Coach Pitch title

By Jonathan Bym

Sports editor

Jonathan Bym can be reached at 910-816-1977 or by email at jbym@robesonian.com. Follow him on Twitter @Jonathan_Bym.