On the cusp of a championship, North Carolina’s Dixie Youth Majors ran up against an undefeated South Carolina team from the Charleston area.
Dunn’s Majors All-Stars lost 8-1 in the fifth round of the World Series on Wednesday, eliminating them from tournament play in Lumberton.
South Carolina’s P.J. Morlando hit two solo home runs in the first and fourth innings. Gabe Dapuyen scored N.C.’s only run of the game in the sixth inning. Dunn had just three hits, from Jamari Thompson, Wyatt Lucas and Gabe.
The local All-Stars pitched Anthony Jones to start; he threw 5.3 innings and was relieved by Jamari Thompson to close.
Head coach Charlie Stevens said he shouldn’t have let Morlando take the bat off his shoulders after his first inning home run.
“They are really good and they played really good,” Stevens said of S.C. “I told my kids to keep their heads held high. They are the first team on the boys’ side to repeat as state champions.”
They finished in third place at the World Series, and according to Stevens, that’s the best that a Dunn Parks and Recreation baseball team has ever done.
Stevens said his players were very upset after the loss, but he’s seen them grow, become more mature and get better at dealing with the pressure and stress.
“We’ve played a lot of ball in the past six weeks ... high level and high stress ball,” he said. “I’ve told them that everything they are doing now will help them later on in life.”
Stevens said his players have gotten better under pressure and better at dealing with stress.
“I’m very proud of my boys,” he said. “Overall, you can see their growth. Midway High School and Triton High School should have some really good baseball coming to them.”
He said he coaches his kids to love and not loathe the game and hopes they never come to him to say they quit playing baseball.
“The good things outweigh the bad things. These kids were 16-3 in high-level baseball,” he said. ”Would I have loved to win the World Series? Yes. But if you told me at the beginning of the year that we were going to go 3-2 and finish third ... I would take it.”
Stevens is look forward to bringing a “big ole’ trophy’ back to Dunn this week, before he prepares to take his son and seven other All-Stars to Cooperstown, N.Y.
“I need to sit down and enjoy what we have done,” he said. “I leave a week from today to New York with eight of these kids. I want to not put the stress level on them and be able to enjoy it and have the experience.” The boys will play in at the Cooperstown Dream Park and go to a Baltimore Orioles game at Yankee Stadium.
Stevens thanked all the fans, calling them “huge” and saying, “We definitely had the home-field advantage every game we were in.”
Round No. 4: 3-0 Win Over Virginia
Dunn started Ross Stevens and he threw 6.1 innings and was relieved after reaching his pitch count limit of 85 pitches. Ross allowed two hits, one walk and struck out 13.
“Ross struck out the last 11 recorded outs while on the mound,” Stevens said, “One of the best games I’ve seen him throw. To be a pitcher that I only allowed to start pitching two years ago, I’m very proud as a coach and a father.”
N.C. did not have a hit until the fourth inning, when Ross smacked a base hit up the middle.
With two outs, and Ross on first, ace pitcher Anthony Jones hit a towering shot to left field that hit off the fence. “The height of the ball allowed Ross to run on contact and score from first,” Stevens said.
In the sixth inning with the score 1-0, Jamari Thompson hit a shot off the fence for a long single. Hunter Tyndall singled up the middle, moving Jamari to second base, Ross hit into a fielder’s choice that moved Jamari to third, then Virginia intentionally walked Anthony to load the bases.
Jalen Evans came up with two out and ripped a single to left field, scoring Jamari from third. Ross advanced to third base and scored later on a wild pitch.