Another Columbia County Recreation Department All-Star Team returned home last week after a strong postseason performance.
A group of 14-year-olds, led by head coach John Sandlin, participated in the 2007 Dixie Boys Baseball World Series in Aiken last week. The Columbia County boys, who advanced to the tournament after winning the Georgia state championship, finished in a tie for fifth place overall.
"We had 13 kids who won as a team and lost as a team," Sandlin said. "We had a great time. We got tremendous support from our families and the rec department and local businesses."
The 12-team tournament began Aug. 4 with an extra-inning victory for Team Georgia. Facing Alabama, the team that ended the tournament tied for third, Georgia escaped the opening-round game with a 5-1 win in eight innings.
The score was tied 1-1 entering the eighth when Columbia County's Jake Sandlin, son of coach John Sandlin, drove in the go-ahead run.
Before his eighth-inning at-bat, Jake had struck out three times in the game.
"You know, it's funny. Jake has struck out maybe seven or eight times this whole year," John Sandlin said. "They had a good pitcher, and I told (Jake) it's just like the pros. You can strike out four times in a game but still be the hero if you get that last hit."
That's exactly what Jake did when he drove in teammates Cade Hardin and Hunter Hamilton with a two-RBI single. Glenn Cassedy and Brian Smith also drove in runs in the inning, and Georgia advanced to the next round.
Georgia faced Mississippi on day two of the tournament. The local boys came up on the short end of a 5-4 loss to the team that would eventually tie for third place in the tournament.
The loss dropped Georgia to the losers' bracket where they eliminated Tennessee in a 10-6 win. More than just getting the win, John Sandlin was pleased with how his team won the ball game.
"We did it, and I like how it's done. We emptied the dugout again," he said.
Sandlin made it a point to use every player he had in the win over Tennessee. Teams aren't required to play every boy on the roster each game, but it worked like a charm for Georgia.
Justin Cofer was put into the game to bat in the fifth inning and reached base with a single. Hunter Hamilton scored in the sixth inning when he pinch ran for Brian Smith.
"It's a team effort. Everyone's involved, and that's the only thing I cared about," Sandlin said.
Georgia's tournament run ended on Tuesday with a 12-4 loss to Florida. It was the end of the road for the team as a part of the Dixie Boys Baseball division, but it might not signal the end of their recreation baseball careers.
"Charlie Blackwell is trying to put together a Dixie Majors program and get that back up to where it used to be," Sandlin said. "I think that'd be a great program."
The Junior Dixie Boys Baseball World Series took place in Muscle Shoals, Ala., last week. Team Georgia, represented by a group of 13-year-old all-stars from Columbia County, lost 7-6 to South Carolina in the championship game Thursday evening. Check next Wednesday's edition of the News-Times for a full recap of the Junior Dixie Boys Baseball World Series.
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.