There was a time when Halifax County American appeared to be on the cusp of forcing an extra game against undefeated Patrick County for the championship in Wednesday night’s game of the 14th Annual Virginia Dixie Youth Baseball O-Zone State Tournament at the Day Complex in South Boston.
A two-RBI double from Carter Thomasson allowed Halifax County American to deadlock the game at 3-3 and shift the momentum its way. Patrick County quickly took it away.
Hunter Pendleton smacked a 3-RBI double in the top of the fifth inning to put Patrick County up 6-3, and an insurance run when Avery Brintle scored on a wild pitch in the top of the sixth inning gave Patrick County a 7-3 win, its second straight Dixie Youth Baseball O-Zone state championship and a berth in the World Series in Ruston, Louisiana.
Along with winning the state title, Patrick County was also named as the recipient of the Charlie Green Sportsmanship Award. Pendleton was the winner of the award for the highest batting average in the tournament with his .571 mark.
“Patrick County is an excellent team,” said Halifax County American manager Keith Newton.
“In my opinion, we had just as good a team. We just didn’t get the breaks and didn’t get the hits we needed tonight to pull off the win.
“I’m proud of our kids,” added Newton.
“They did an excellent job. They stayed motivated and pushed all the way through.”
Halifax County American’s fourth-inning rally was set up when Mason Rush opened with a single, and Logan Smith was given an intentional walk. Rush stole second base, moved to third base on a wild pitch, and both scored on the single by Thomasson.
At that point, the situation looked favorable for Halifax County American.
“We felt very confident at that time,” Newton pointed out.
“We just ran out of steam a little bit, and couldn’t produce enough hits to capture the win.”
The two-run fourth inning was the second time in the game Halifax County had stepped up to match a Patrick County score.
A two-out single from Pendleton netted Patrick County a 1-0 lead in the first inning. Halifax County tied the game in the bottom of the first inning with a single from Logan Smith that scored Lukas Newton, who had reached base on a walk earlier in the inning.
In the last two innings, Patrick County, which had experience in its favor with six players returning from last year’s state championship team, was able to muster the offensive firepower to win.
“It’s a great feeling (to win back-to-back state titles),” said Patrick County coach Michael Hall.
“It’s a tribute to the kids and parents we have in our county. Halifax has a good team. It was a very tough tournament. Each game got tougher as the tournament went along. There are great teams down here.”
Halifax County American had four hits in the game with Thomasson leading the way with two hits. Rush and Smith had a hit each.
Patrick County banged out 11 hits in the contest with Pendleton having two hits and four RBIs and Gavin Fain chipping in a pair of hits. Noah Jessup, Stuart Callahan, Jackson Horton, Broc Taylor, Brintle, David Lawson and Lucas Taylor all had one hit.
Halifax County American advanced to Wednesday night’s championship game by shutting out Madison Heights 5-0 on Tuesday night, eliminating Madison Heights from the tournament.
It was an eight-hit offensive attack that helped propel Halifax County American to the win. Logan Clark gave Halifax County American the lead with a solo homer in the first inning. A two-run homer by Smith kicked off a three-run rally in the fourth inning that produced a 4-0 lead for Halifax County American. Newton stole home after having reached base on an error earlier in the fifth inning to score Halifax County American’s final run.
Smith and Thomasson led Halifax County American with two hits each. Clark, Newton, Eli Seamster and Drake Puryear had a hit each.
Patrick County advanced to Wednesday night’s title game by edging Rustburg 1-0, scoring the game-winning run in the bottom of the sixth-inning.