July 9, 2009
Adam Minichino - [email protected]
The answer is a resounding yes.
The Columbus Nationals 10-year-old Dizzy Dean baseball team will go to the World Series in Tupelo.
The Columbus Nationals took care of the first part of the equation earlier Wednesday night, beating Clinton 13-3 to win the South Half state title at Propst Park.
The victory was the third in two days for the Columbus Nationals, who defeated Ackerman and Clinton 16-6 in four innings Tuesday to force a third meeting between the teams in the tournament.
Clinton defeated the Columbus Nationals 8-4 Monday to remain in the winners'' bracket.
Last year, the Columbus Nationals earned the right to go to the 9-year-old Dizzy Dean World Series but elected not to go.
On Wednesday night, Columbus Nationals coach Rory Sneed asked his players and their parents if they wanted to go to Tupelo to play in the World Series.
The players and parents replied in rousing fashion.
"I was pretty sure all of the parents were supportive of it, and I knew the kids wanted to go," Sneed said. "It is going to tax some of our schedules, but we''ll make it happen."
The Columbus Nationals used a solid all-around effort to earn the chance to continue their season next week.
Tied 1-1 after one and a half innings, the Columbus Nationals used hits by Tyler Anderson, Thomas Stevens, Deonteau Rieves, Hunter Short, and Logan Sneed to score five runs and take the momentum.
Rieves allowed just two hits and struck out four in the first three innings to help keep Clinton in check.
The Columbus Nationals then sent 10 batters to the plate and tacked on six more runs in the bottom of the third to break the game open.
Clinton answered with two runs against LaQuinston Sharp in the top of the fourth inning, but the scores didn''t delay the mercy-rule victory long. Sneed singled and, following a walk to Alex Adair and a line out by Anderson, scored on a wild pitch to end the game.
Anderson led the way with two hits and three RBIs, while Stevens (two hits) and Rieves each had two RBIs.
Seven Columbus Nationals players had hits in the game, and all but three reached base in the victory.
''They gained a lot of confidence back after last night," Sneed said. "We just hit the ball tonight. Last night, I kind of felt like they gave it to us because they walked a lot of guys. Tonight we just hit the ball and put the pressure on them. That was the difference in the game."
Dawson Davis singled and scored a run, Spencer Williamson had an RBI, and Timothy Myles and Payton Deaver had hits for Clinton.
"They deserve all of the credit in the world," Clinton manager Malcolm Williamson said of the Columbus Nationals. "It is not surprising they came out on top with the pitching they had left. Our best pitching and their best pitching, the teams are evenly matched. It all comes down to the fact that we struggled to find the strike zone, and when we did find the strike zone we didn''t have a lot of velocity. They hit the ball well."
Clinton couldn''t use pitchers Parker Lee and Deaver in the final two games against the Columbus Nationals because both had exhausted their limit of 12 innings allowed to each pitcher in the tournament.
On Tuesday, Clinton allowed 11 walks in its mercy-rule loss. Dawson Freibert, Reed Gentry, and Davis pitched well Wednesday, but the Columbus Nationals were too hot at the plate.
Williamson doesn''t know the quality of the out-of-state teams that will participate in the World Series next week, but he is confident the Columbus Nationals have the pieces to be competitive.
"They have enough pitching to manage it well, and they have proven it in this tournament," Williamson said. "I wish them well."
Sneed also likes his team''s chances.
"I have had confidence in them all year," Sneed said. "I know they can all hit. I have confidence in them every time they go to the plate that they can hit. I don''t ever feel like we''re going to go into a game and not hit the ball.
"(Depth of pitching) is huge. We used at least six guys (on the mound) and have only 12 players. I think everybody on the team has pitched some this year. We just got into a situation where we didn''t have to play too many games in the losers'' bracet, so we didn''t have to use some of those kids. I feel confident some of those kids (who didn''t pitch in the South Half state tournament) could pitch (in the World Series) if we need them to."
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.