BRUCE BRANUM | The Greenville Standard
Two Dixie League ball teams from Greenville, full of talented players from all over the broader community have achieved what no other in history have; they earned the right to play in the 2016 Dixie World Series (DWS). Many teams have won sub-district championships; fewer have made it to the state playoffs, but none to the DWS.
This past week, one of Greenville’s teams, the Dixie Boys 15U Baseball All-Stars traveled to Ozark to do just that, to play in the DWS at the historic Eagle Stadium. This was a team of belief; belief in their selves and belief in their teammates. From their original selection to participate in All-Stars, 11 players were ready to get dirty, put in the hard work at practice, take the risks necessary to advance and leave it all on the field to earn a spot playing for all the marbles.
They took that attitude to the field in Ozark but it just wasn’t quite to be for the Greenville Boys this year. The DWS tournament was a single elimination event. There were no second chances. You play your best, get lucky or go home.
Taking on West Georgia in their first game July 21, Greenville took advantage of almost every walk, hit by pitch, error and hit to score. Like a speeding train full of railcars, base runner after base runner flew by home plate. Within three innings, Greenville won by the mercy rule, 16-0 behind the pitching of Jamil Thompson who through a “no hitter”. Thompson faced nine batters, struck five out, threw three out on dribbles back to the pitcher and made an unassisted out.
Every batter for Greenville scored at least once with Chris Bedgood scoring three times. Thompson, Caleb Garrette, who was hit by a pitch the three times he stepped to the plate, Treyton McGough, Curtis Robinson and Andrew Williams scored two runs each. Josh Petty, Bryce Yancey and Jackson Edwards scored once each. The big hitters were Bedgood, Thompson and McGough who had two hits each in the game. Edwards received a rousing lift by all the players as he took the walk off hit in the bottom of third inning, scoring the last two runs needed to place in affect the mercy rule against Georgia.
With a day off, due to the Purvis, Miss. team dropping out from the tournament, the Greenville Boys faced North Lakeland Florida on July 23 for a night game. The boys stepped onto the field with excited but a relaxed determination. Josh Petty took the mound for Greenville and coolly held Florida in check for three and a half innings until game circumstances made Head Coach Randall Petty call in his ace, Jamil Thompson.
Florida and Greenville both scored a run in the first inning. Florida added two more in the second, Greenville only one. Florida added a run in every inning thereafter; while it seemed Greenville just couldn’t put hits together to score additional runs. But, in the bottom of the fifth Greenville made a brilliant rally and with the crowd on their feet and heart attacks happening among family and fans they brought the score to within one run, 6-5.
Even though Greenville outhit Florida, errors and a two hour time limit eventually defeated Greenville and they lost 7-5 in the bottom of the sixth. Player highlights included Thompson scoring two runs and having one single; Bedgood with a single and a run; Petty with a single and a double; McGough with single and a run, and Garrette with one run. Yancey and Edwards had a hit for a single each.
Though the loss was immediately hard to accept by the players, families and fans many were the smiles and uplifting praise for the Greenville Boys courageous effort. Coach Petty, after both games, highly commended his team for their achievement and individual sacrifice. In talking with fans and players, all said that to have gone so far and then to lose was hard to accept, but to do what no other Greenville Dixie Baseball team had ever done before was consolation enough “this time.”