TEXARKANA, ARK. — Team Florida is rolling after winning all three games they played in Sunday’s third day of the Dixie Youth AA World Series in Texarkana, Ark.
The victories moved Florida into Monday’s championship game. Results were not available at press time. For the complete story and photos, be sure to read Wednesday’s Highlands Today sports section. For the latest results, go to the Highlands Today Facebook page.
In Sunday’s first game, Florida was home team to Mississippi in a very important game. South Carolina had already locked up one of the top two spots of pool B and there was only one more spot to be had.
A win against Mississippi would make Florida number one in pool play, having defeated South Carolina. However, a loss against Mississippi would leave them tied with Alabama. The tie would be broken by head-to-head matches and Alabama would be granted that spot as they had defeated Florida.
Mississippi had no chance of advancing, but would be the deciding factor on whether Florida would move on or go home.
Alabama players and fans took up more than half of the bleachers on the Mississippi side. They were well aware that a win by Mississippi would put them into the final four.
Mississippi started off strong in the top of the first inning putting five runs on the board and getting through 10 of their batters before Florida could manage to get three outs.
In the bottom of the frame, Clayton Evans started the team off with a shot to the outfield for a triple. Evans went 3 for 3 for the game with a triple and two singles.
Florida only brought in two runs for the inning before Mississippi headed back up to the plate where they managed two more runs. Evans made a diving catch for a foul ball for the third out of the inning. In the bottom of the second, Florida brought the bats scoring a total of six runs. George Sebring belted a ball to the fence for a triple and three RBI.
Mississippi held Florida scoreless in the third, fourth, and fifth innings. Mississippi scored one in the third and was locked down in the fourth by Florida with three batters up and three down.
In the top of the fifth, Mississippi scored two runs.
Florida held Mississippi scoreless in the top of the sixth and were down by two runs as they went to bat.
Austin Joiner hit a double to start off the inning and Aiden Wyatt was out at first with the RBI. Brody Green, Zain Carmichael and Brad Benton all followed with singles. Next to bat was Ezera Jackson. He stepped into the box with the tying run on third and the winning run on second. He watched two balls go by before he took a swing at the third. He smacked a single to drive in the tying and winning runs for the victory.
Florida players and fans screamed with excitement knowing that the win had granted them first place in their pool and advanced them to the double-elimination bracket and final four in the World Series.
Florida, as number one in their pool, was matched up against pool B runner-up, Arkansas.
Arkansas started off the first inning with two runs and Florida could only respond with one. Florida’s defense shut down Arkansas in innings two, three, four and five with three batters up and three down. Florida scored two runs in the second.
Arkansas refused to go quietly and scored three runs in their last at-bat bat to fall by a score of 6-5.
Florida remained in the winner’s bracket and moved over as visitor to play North Carolina which beat South Carolina by one run.
South Carolina and Arkansas were both moved to the loser’s bracket and faced each other.
Florida’s last game of the day paired them with North Carolina who had remained undefeated throughout the entire World Series thus far.
Florida was up to bat first and came out strong scoring four runs. North Carolina retaliated in the bottom of the inning scoring three themselves before the inning ended on a double play with a score of 4-3 Florida.
In the top of the third Florida’s offense exploded. Carmichael and Sebring started off with base hits Brody Green hit a shot to the fence for two RBI followed by a base hit by Aiden Wyatt. Joiner and Chase Sevigny both had base hits, Brad Benton singled and Ezera Jackson ripped a double.
Cody Littlefield followed with a single and RBI bringing the score at the top of the third to 11-3 Florida.
North Carolina went three up and down in the top of the fourth and the high octane Florida offense went back to work.
Evans singled, Sebring ripped an RBI double and Vaughn lined a run-scoring single for a commanding 13-3 lead.
If North Carolina failed to score, the game would be over because of the 10-run mercy rule.
The Sebring defense did its job and retired the last batter for the easy victory and a berth in the championship game.
South Carolina eliminated Arkansas from the tournament Sunday night and played North Carolina in an elimination game on Monday.
The winner of that game played Florida for Dixie Youth AA World Series title.