All Stars Hit State
By Brandon Park
Three teams represented the Morgan County Recreational Department last weekend in the Georgia Recreation and Park Association (GRPA) State Baseball Tournaments.
By winning their regional tournament weeks earlier, the 9-10 year-old Mites, the 11-12 year-old Midgets and the 13-14 year-old Junior Boys all earned an opportunity to compete in their four-day, double elimination tournament against the state’s top teams.
The Mites hosted their tournament at Heritage Park July 10-12. The Midgets traveled to Hazelhurst July 9-11, while the Juniors traveled to Nashville on July 9-11.
The Mites went into tournament action with the home field advantage.
Play began Thursday with Morgan squaring off against Tallapoosa in the first round. Late afternoon storm clouds gave way to thundering hits and lightning quick defense that led to a first-round, 5-2 victory.
A round-two showdown with Metter-Candler would produce a 10-2 loss for Morgan, pushing them into the losers bracket. Morgan would follow the loss to Metter with a 10-7 victory over Berrien County that same day.
In a win-or-go-home game for both Morgan and Hawkinsville, the hometown kids pushed ahead with a 7-6 victory, sending them into the fourth-round to once again face Metter-Candler.
Morgan would fall one game shy of the championship game with a 9-1 loss against Metter-Candler, who would go on to face undefeated Appling County in the championship game.
The Mites finished the tournament in third place.
"In my opinion, we were the third place team and I told my kids, 'You shouldn't mind getting beat when you get beat by a better team’," head coach Dusty Hawkins said. "I had two coaches helping me that did a great job and we had tremendous support from the community at the games. I was very pleased overall with the outcome of the whole tournament."
The Midget League state tournament was held in Hazelhurst July 9-11. Unlike the Mite league where players hit against a pitching machine, the Midget players faced off against live pitching.
First-round action pitted Morgan against Mt. Zion. A 6-2 victory would move Morgan into round two against eventual tournament champion Appling County.
Appling would give Morgan its first tournament loss by a score of 4-0, moving them into the losers bracket.
Round-three offered a match-up with Pierce County. A Clark Owen home run would keep Morgan close, but a 9-6 loss would eliminate them from competition.
"We battled back and forth against Pierce County," Head Coach Andy Couch said. "Our team was as good as the rest of the teams there, we just haven't played together that long. Most of those kids have not been in that type of pressure situation before...It was great experience, we had a good team and everyone had a good time."
Junior Boys League
The Junior Boys League state tournament was held in Nashville July 9-11.
Round-one action would see Morgan suffer a one-sided, 10-0 defeat at the hands of Glennville.
Already facing elimination, Morgan's bats woke up in round-two action. A 16-12 victory over Breman would push them into round-three.
Much like the first round, Morgan was unable to produce any runs in third-round play against eventual tournament champs, Berrien. A 13-0 loss would eliminate Morgan from action.
The rec. department would like to announce its 10, 11 and 12 year-old Fall Baseball League. The league is designed to give players some additional instruction and experience.
This is a great opportunity for players to play different positions that they did not get to play this past season, according to the rec. department.
Pitchers' innings will be limited. For example, if it is an eight game season, a player can not pitch more than sixteen innings the entire fall season. Furthermore, a pitcher may only pitch two innings per game.
The batting order is compromised of the whole team, with free fielding substitution. There will be a nine player maximum at bat per inning, and only seven walks per inning will be allowed.
This league is a non-competitive format, meaning wins and loses will not be recorded and there will be no all stars.
The fall league is also a great way for players to transition from the 9-10 pitching machine to live pitching.
"This league is designed to better prepare the players for those new rules and give them a head start going into the next season," rec. department AD J.D. Doss said.
For more information, call the rec. department at 706-342-0588.