Greene County All-Stars qualify for World Series

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The Greene County 11-12-year-old Dixie Youth baseball team poses together Sunday afternoon after clinching the state championship and advancing to the 11-12-year-old World Series. The team consists of: front row (l-r): Walker Roberts, Ian Watson, Dylan Hiter, Cameron Kelly, Wilson Moore, Maddox Robinson; back row (l-r):  coach David Todd, Reid Davis, David Todd, Trace Wood, coach Russell Hiter, Bryce Bragg, Will Moore, Ike O’Neal and coach Pete O’Neal.

PHOTO: Contributed

By Justin Hubbard

justin@lakeoconeenews.us

 

The Dixie Youth 11/12 Greene County All-Stars baseball team got a temporary new name earlier this week.

Greene County’s team won the Dixie Youth Georgia state title this past Sunday at the Putnam County Recreation Department, mean it will advance to compete in the upcoming Dixie Youth World Series. The Greene All-Stars will be known as “Team Georgia” moving forward.

The team defeated Perry’s 11/12 all-star team on Sunday to earn that distinction. Perry needed to beat Greene twice to win the state championship. It only got halfway there.

Game one ended in Perry’s favor, 9-6, but Greene came back and won game two, 9-3.

“It was great,” said Greene head coach Pete O’Neal. “[Greene’s players] kept their heads up the whole time and really played hard. That's what we've tried to instill in them from the beginning. There's gonna be ups and downs and peaks and valleys but we've got to stay level the whole time. I was very proud of them.”

O’Neal’s players certainly experienced peaks and valleys on Sunday.

They fell behind in the first inning, 5-0, then took a big bite out of that deficit with several quality at-bats in the second inning.

By the time the bottom of the sixth (the final inning of Dixie Youth games) came around, Greene was down by four runs. The players loaded the bases with zero outs and eventually scored a run.

Unfortunately for Greene, its rally stopped there. In game two, the players bounced back and clinched the “O” Zone state title.

“I was impressed,” O’Neal said regarding his players’ willingness to fight back. “They always believed in themselves and kept their heads up. The week before in pool play, we had some games that were close and we'd make some plays and then turn around and give away some plays. We taught them to kind of use those as lessons to build on going forward. It seemed to work out. They never gave up.”

Last weekend featured another special moment for the Greene County squad.

On Saturday, Bryce Bragg and Trace Wood combined to throw a no-hitter. Their efforts led Greene to a win over Jones County, propelling the team to the championship round.

“I think they only gave up one walk or else it would've been a perfect game,” O’Neal said. “Those two really did an awesome job.”

O’Neal said Bragg and Wood were crucial components to Sunday’s title-securing win, too.

Greene County’s team is comprised of eight 11-year-olds and four 12-year-olds. O’Neal, who has coached various teams for the last decade through the Greene County Recreation Department, has never coached a team that advanced this far.

Earlier this week, O’Neal was busy filling out required paperwork for his team to travel to the World Series. The double-elimination tournament will be held in Lumberton, North Carolina, which is about a four-hour drive from Greene County.

The tournament will be held August 4-9.

O’Neal said he is confident in his team’s chances if the players can continue performing well.

“We've just got to keep doing what we're doing,” he said. “Keep working hard in practice. These guys have busted their tails at practice and listened and learned every day. They work extremely hard. We're out there some nights for three and a half, four hours till we get things right and these guys never complain. It's hot out there but they're working hard and getting better. We'll keep doing that and we'll also just take it one play at a time. That's an old cliché but that's what you've got to do.”

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