The 12U Spartans travel baseball team ventured to Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, over the weekend to play in the Cal Ripken Veteran’s Day Tournament. 

There were 12 teams in the 12U division, and as of Sunday afternoon, the Spartans had advanced to the round of eight in bracket play and looking to make it to the final four.

On Saturday, the Cluster Springs-based team lost the opening game to the Hardknox Orioles 10-6, but came back in the second game to defeat the Jackson County Huskies in impressive fashion 24-1. The 1-1 record put them in third place in their division after the top two teams tied in their head to head matchup. They were the number five-ranked team out of 12 heading into bracket play on Sunday. 

The Spartans opened up bracket play with a rematch with the Jackson County Huskies, and they dispatched them once again with no problem by a score of 20-5. This set up another rematch with the Hardknox Orioles in the round of eight for a chance at the final four in the tournament. Results from the Spartans game with the Orioles and other results will be in Wednesday’s paper.

In their opening game of pool play on Saturday, the Spartans outhit the Orioles 8-6, but were unable to capitalize and get the win. 

The Spartans were able to get two runs in the last inning to cut the score to 10-6 but a runner got caught stealing followed by two ground outs ended the game.

In the second game of the day against the Huskies, the Spartans got back on the winning side, scoring 16 runs in the third inning to end the game by mercy rule 24-1. The Spartans only got one run in the first inning but exploded for seven in the second and 16 in the third to easily defeat the Huskies.

They scored their 24 runs on 14 hits and drew nine walks in three innings. 

Spartans pitching only gave up one hit as three pitchers combined for eight strikeouts and only three walks. 

On Sunday morning it was more of the same for the Spartans, as they faced the Huskies again in a rematch of Saturday’s game, this time in the first game of bracket play. This time the Spartans won 20-5, with an 11 run fourth inning delivering the knockout blow to the Huskies. 

The Spartans had 18 hits in the game and only struck out twice. All but one player on the team had a hit.

Johnathan Kirland is a sports writer for The Gazette-Virginian. Contact him jkirkland@gazettevirginian.com. Follow him on Twitter @JohnathanK_GV