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Columbus National to play for South State championship


Adam Minichino



The Columbus Nationals battered opponents to the tune of 47 runs in their first three games in the Dizzy Dean 10-year-old South Half state tournament. 


After suffering their first loss of the tournament Monday to Clinton, the Columbus Nationals rebounded Tuesday in a big way. 


Logan Sneed delivered a complete-game effort to help the Columbus Nationals defeat Ackerman 8-4 in the final game of the losers'' bracket. 


Columbus then benefited from 11 walks in the nightcap to beat Clinton 16-6 in four innings. 


The second victory helped the Columbus Nationals force a third and tournament title deciding game against Clinton at 6 p.m. today at Propst Park. 


The winner will advance to the World Series. 


The Columbus Nationals had only seven hits against Clinton (no one had more than one hit), but it scored eight of its runs on wild pitches or walks. 


Clinton, whose top two pitchers exhausted their limit of 12 innings in the tournament, used four pitchers (one twice) in an attempt to end the tournament Tuesday. 


But the Columbus Nationals, who used an aggressive approach to get to force a rematch with Clinton, stayed patient Tuesday night to stay alive. 


"I wouldn''t have dreamed that (we would have had seven hits and scored 16 runs in a victory)," Columbus Nationals coach Rory Sneed said. "Most everybody we have faced has had plenty of pitching, and their guys just struggled tonight. It was to our advantage that they did. I was shocked that we had as many walks as we did. Seven hits, that is surprising." 


The Columbus Nationals also benefited from four batters being hit by a pitch. Three of those came in the bottom of the first inning when the Columbus Nationals scored five runs. 


Clinton rallied for three runs in the top half of the second, only to see starting pitcher Deonteau Rives work out of trouble. The right-hander struck out one batter for the first out, allowed an infield hit that loaded the bases, and then struck out the final two batters to escape more damage. 


"I have been coaching him since he is 7 and he is the best gamer I have coached," Sneed said. "He is just an unbelievable player. He never gets rattled and never gets down if things go wrong. He is one of those who can overcome it, which is why I expected him to do what he did. 


"If they catch us and tie the game, our guys are going to tense up again." 


The Columbus Nationals tacked on two runs in the bottom half of the inning and three more in the third. 


There were 17 walks in the game, which was more than two hours old in the fourth inning. 


Clinton manager Malcolm Williamson agreed his pitchers struggled to find the strike zone. He said he might have had a "short rope" with some of his pitchers and not allowed them to remain in the game long enough in part because the team wasn''t hitting. 


In addition to laving the bases loaded in the second, the Arrows stranded two runners in the third and two more (in scoring position) in the fourth that could have helped them stay closer. 


Parker Lee had a two-run single in the fourth, and Timothy Myles had a two-run single in the second for Clinton, which had only four hits. 


"As lovely as the city is, we didn''t want to stay here one more day. We wanted to go home (Tuesday night)," Williamson said. "(It was frustrating) not to get the hits when we needed them. We''re usually a better offensive team than we demonstrated tonight." 


Sneed felt his players played well despite being a little "tight" early on. He said scoring the runs early in the game helped give them confidence and momentum. 


Tyler Anderson (two RBIs), Thomas Stevens, Rieves (RBI), Hunter Short (RBI), Kyle Cruthirds (RBI), Alex Adair, and Logan Ford had hits for the Columbus Nationals. 


In the first game of the day, Sneed''s appearance on the mound was his second of the tournament. He pitched two-thirds of an inning Monday in the Columbus Nationals'' 8-4 loss to Clinton. 


Sneed struck out five, walked none, and hit a batter in his complete-game effort. He was the first Columbus Nationals pitcher to go more than three innings in the tournament. 


"I never dreamed it myself," coach Sneed said. "I made the decision to start him 10 minutes before the game started. I was planning on going with another kid. He has never pitched more than three innings in a game all year, and I did not expect it. He had a little bit of a lead and he was throwing well. As a parent and as a coach, I was pleasantly surprised." 


Rieves was the only one of the six Columbus Nationals pitchers had used in the tournament to pitch at least three innings before Sneed''s effort Tuesday. 


Coach Sneed said his son isn''t his team''s hardest thrower, but he is so effective because he has good control and gets ahead of hitters. 


"He is not an overpowering pitcher," Sneed said. "He has got very good accuracy and he has improved as the year has went along. Early in the year, he threw a lot of pitches right down the middle. He has gotten very good with location and hitting corners and knowing what to do when we have two strikes on a batter." 


Trace Lindsay was the only player with two hits for Ackerman, which had its six-game winning streak in the losers'' bracket snapped. 


Mo Harding, Eric Jones, Hayes Wood, and Noah Lawson also had hits for Ackerman. 



Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.


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