Sometimes a team needs help.
At the Dixie Youth Boys O-Zone Georgia State Tournament, the Columbia County all-star team was in that exact position.
"We started off pretty slow," coach Jamie Dukes said. "We went into extra innings our first game and squeaked that one out on a home run. Our second game, we got beat by Jones County. Their pitcher only gave up three hits."
Already facing elimination, the 11- and 12-year-old all-stars were desperate for some help. It came in the form of a bottle.
"Springtime bottled water," Dukes said. "Our director, Kelvin Lampkin, had the idea. We started drinking that every day, and we turned it up a notch. It's our hometown water."
The water, which is pumped from wells and bottled in Appling, put a spark in the Columbia County All-Stars lineup. The team won its next four games via the mercy rule, including an 11-3 blowout win over the same Jones County pitcher who had held the team to three hits earlier in the tournament.
"It woke us up or something," pitcher Clayton Peoples said of the water. "By that third game, we were up and ready then."
Peoples, a 6-foot-1-inch, 170-pound rising eighth-grader at Greenbrier Middle, threw 12 innings in the tournament, including the final three innings in the championship game.
That game ended a best-of-three championship match pitting Columbia County against host team Mills Creek. The Columbia County All-Stars swept the home team 8-0 and 4-2 to win the state championship and earn a trip to the 2006 Dixie Youth "O" Zone World Series in Dothan, Ala.
The team will compete in the six-day tournament starting Saturday with a game against Team Florida.
"I hope we can win it," infielder Will Price said. "We'll have to play as a team. We like to argue, but to win it we've got to stick together."
The Columbia County All-Stars, now Team Georgia, hope to get off to a better start in the World Series than at the state tournament. Assistant coaches Chris Price and Adam Jones have done everything they can to ensure a strong start. When the team leaves for Dothan on Friday, it'll take five cases (150 bottles) of Springtime water along for the ride.
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