LUMBERTON — The Florida Machine Pitch team was more than happy to stay on the field in the middle of a downpour after the final game of the Dixie Youth World Series on Tuesday.
Nothing was going to faze Scott Emmerman’s team after they defeated South Carolina 6-2 in the Machine Pitch championship game at the Ray Pennington Athletic Complex.
“This was our goal,” Emmerman said. We’ve got a talented group of boys, a great community, great families. Everybody wanted to support us. It’s awesome. It’s something that’s very important to us.”
The championship game marked the third time Florida faced South Carolina in the tournament, and the second time they came out with a victory.
Undefeated Florida had a chance to win the championship earlier in the day against a South Carolina team that already had one loss, but they couldn’t hold on to a four-run lead as their opponents won 6-5.
Florida led the first game 5-1 before South Carolina rallied to tie the score and ultimately take a 6-5 lead in the fifth inning. Jackson Richardson, Stone Burd, A.J. Petro, Michael Dowling and Brandon Espinoza scored runs for South Carolina to fuel the comeback.
Florida had runners on first and second base in the sixth inning but couldn’t convert on the chance to score.
South Carolina struck first when Richardson crossed the plate in the second inning of the rubber match, but Florida respoded with one run in the third inning and three runs in the fourth.
Lucas Sutton and Frankie Sekelsky scored Florida’s fifth and sixth runs, respectively, in the fifth inning. Both had reached base on errors.
Michael Dowling accounted for South Carolina’s final run in the third inning.
Jaxon Barton led the way for Florida with a pair of hits against a defense that committed eight errors.
Johnny Carr, John Ontal, Grady Cherrington-Dunton,Richardson, Burd, Dowling and Espinoza each logged one hit for South Carolina.
Florida had defeated Mississippi, Tennessee and South Carolina before beating Virginia 1-0 to reach the championship game.
“These boys have heart,” Emmerman said. “They lost one this morning and came back. I knew they weren’t going to give up on it. These boys have a heart of gold.”
“Last year we played some Dixie ball, did some tournaments, Emmerman added. “Our goal was to win the World Series. To accomplish a goal and work hard at it at 8 years old says a lot.”
South Carolina coach John Ontal said he wants the lessons his payers learned at the tournament to stick with them.
“The takeaway is if you work hard, good things happen,” Ontal said. “That’s what put them in a position to play for the World Series championship, and that’s something they’ll have forever.
“They just kept firing. The’yre hard-nosed kids who never give up.”
Tennessee took home the tournament’s sportsmanship award, while Ayden Bishop of Georgia was named the batting champion.