By Malcolm Butler
And then there were six.
Team Louisiana used a late inning to defeat Team Texas 7-5 Monday afternoon in Lumberton, North Carolina at the third day of the World Series and stave off elimination.
With the win, Team Louisiana – comprised of the Ruston American 10u team that captured the state title in Monroe – is one of six remaining teams out of the original 12, joining Team South Carolina, Team North Carolina, Team Alabama, Team Mississippi and Team Virginia.
Team Louisiana plays Team Virginia today at 3:30 p.m. CT in another elimination game. Fans can watch the game through a paid subscription at: https://www.jockjive.com/
After seeing a 4-0 first inning lead evaporate with Team Texas plated four runs in the top of the fifth to take a 5-4 lead, Team Louisiana responded immediately, plating three runs to regain a 7-5 advantage. Team Texas was unable to plate another run and was eliminated in the loss.
“There is a lot of pressure on them that they put on themselves,” said head coach Steve Davison. “The atmosphere is just different here. It gets your heart rate up. But it’s great to see our kids not letting the big moments affect them in a negative way. And not get down after a tough moment.
“We saw that (Tuesday). We fell behind in the fifth but they were all lifting each other up and rallying their teammates. It’s all about competing at the end of the day. It’s hot here, just like back home. Hydration is an issue. The conditions can be difficult. Lane Burroughs talked to them about dominating the elements. We have not let the elements or the magnitude of the moment affect our play for the most part.”
Team Louisiana received a quality start from Grey Ramsey on the mound and got some early offense in the first inning. The four-run frame was highlighted by a base hit from Jacoby Smith and a big two-out, two-run hit by Rhodes Kilpatrick.
“Texas brought in a hard-throwing lefty named Logan Bittle who gave our hitters a really tough time for several innings,” said Davison. “Texas was scrappy. They plated one in the second inning and then four more in the fifth despite what I thought was a really good relief outing from Jacoby.”
In the bottom of the fifth inning, Team Louisiana fought back.
“We had some really good hustle plays in the inning, including Ryder Walpole beating out a ground ball to first base and Grey scoring from second on the play to give us the lead back,” said Davison.
Team Louisiana plated an insurance run in the fifth on a well-executed first and third play.
“We have been working on that play and the kids executed it perfectly,” said Davison.
Walpole entered the game on the mound in the sixth and worked a 3 up, 3 down inning, including striking out the final two batters of the game.
In addition to giving props to his team, Davison sang the praises of the parents.
“We have great support out here,” he said. “Our parents were scrubbing red clay out of the uniforms this afternoon after the game to get them ready for tomorrow. We all appreciate everyone’s interest and the well wishes we have received from back home.”
He also added that the Ruston boys have made a positive impression away from the field as well.
“We took the kids out to eat at an Italian restaurant,” he said. “Here we were with 14 kids and our coaching staff. There was a couple sitting close to us and I was worried we may ruin their dinner with the noise of a bunch of excited kids.
“But the couple bought our meal and came over and spoke to each one of the boys and asked them who each of their favorite big league players were. It was really a neat thing to see. He showed a lot of interest in the kids and told us how well-behaved they were.”
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