NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. - Team Florida stumbled in its opening game of the Dixie Majors (ages 15-19) World Series, falling to Team Tennessee 3-1 at Collins Park on Saturday afternoon.
The loss set Florida up with an elimination game against Team Arkansas on Sunday. Results were not available at press time.
"Our boys played really well," Florida coach Chad Wright said. "But we just couldn't get a base hit when we needed it most."
Team Florida jumped on the scoreboard first, taking a 1-0 lead into the fourth inning.
In the opening inning, Josh Baber lead-off with a double and Josh Gomez hit a sacrifice fly to send Baber to third. Torri Pringle followed with a single to score Baber.
Cruising through three innings with a one run lead, Florida hurler Nate Greene ran into some trouble in the bottom of the fourth.
Tennessee managed to take the lead on a three run spurt. And despite Florida putting runners on first and second over the final innings, the Heartland all-stars failed to take advantage of their scoring opportunities. Trey Marley took care of the rest of team's hits, finishing with two.
"We were doing great until the fourth," Wright said. "After that we just couldn't string our hits together."
"Nate pitched real well. I wouldn't put this loss on anyone - we win as a team, we lose as a team," he added. "We just couldn't put the ball in play late in the game. That's baseball."
Despite an opening day loss, there were some positives for Team Florida.
Josh Baber won the home run derby, blasting two long balls to take home an impressive trophy.
"It's a pretty great trophy," Wright said. "I'm really proud of him for being able to win it."
Wright also noted that the fans, staff, and facilities at the World Series have been more than accommodating in trying to make sure all the teams are having a great time.
"It's been great," he said. "The parents have been amazing - all of them have been really supportive. And everything from the fields to the hospitality has really been enjoyable. Collins Park is a really great field to play some baseball on."
"There's even an Most Valuable Player (MVP) award given out after each game," Wright added. "It's similar to the home run balls they hand out after the Dixie Youth district and state tournaments."
But Wright said he has no illusions about falling into the loser's bracket.
"We came home from the game, cooled down, and got some rest. But our backs are against the wall now. We've got to come out and play well against Arkansas or else we'll be going home."