Buckingham's Run Ends On DYB Tournament's Final Day

Published 2:50 pm Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The team that wasn't really supposed to be there, almost made it the entire way.

Playing as the third seed out of Division IV, which received the spot after Division III failed to field a team and Division V turned the vacant spot down, the Buckingham County Major League All-Stars finished with a runner-up finish in the 54th-Annual Dixie Youth Baseball Major League State Tournament.

“I really wasn't a firm believer in a third place team going myself,” said Buckingham manager Charlie Allen, “…but the kids gave it their all, and changed a lot of minds along the way.”

A 9-8 loss to eventual tournament champion Charlotte in the championship tiebreaker game ended Buckingham's run (Charlotte later defeated Goochland, which also had one loss but won the draw for the bye to claim the state championship).

The BC All-Stars didn't go down without a fight. BC fell behind 7-1, before their bats woke up in a big way. Buckingham belted four home runs to eventually tie the contest at 8-8 in the top of the sixth inning before Charlotte scored the winning run in the bottom of the sixth.

Buckingham spotted Charlotte three runs in the first inning, before getting on the board in the top of the third. Cody Smith was hit by a pitch and eventually scored to cut Charlotte's lead to 3-1. The BC All-Stars left the bases loaded, and after giving up four runs to Charlotte in the bottom of the third to fall behind 7-1, it looked like they missed their opportunity, but Harley Gough got Buckingham's bats going with a leadoff home run in the top of the fourth.

Devin Allen reached base and later scored to cut Charlotte's lead to 7-3. Charlotte's Josh Jones hit his team's third home run of the day in the bottom of the fourth to extend its lead to 8-3, but Gough responded with another home run in the top of the fifth, followed by a two-run shot by Jeffrey Craft to cut Charlotte's lead to 8-6.

Charlotte went quietly in the bottom of the fifth. BJ Gough led off the top of the sixth inning with a home run, and Gray Heslip singled and scored on a double by Harley Gough to tie the game at eight-apiece.

Charlotte had one last at-bat. Taylor Mann walked to lead off the bottom of the inning and worked his way around to third, before scoring the winning run on a sacrifice bunt by Carter Strickland.

“Going into the game, we knew that we were going to have to hit with them,” said Allen. “The first two innings, we didn't do that, and we dug a deep hole. We did a good job coming back, but came up a run short. One more inning, and maybe we could've done some damage.”

Harley Gough led Buckingham with a 3-4 effort with two home runs and a double. Craft was 2-2 with a walk and the two run home run, and Jacob Critzer was 2-3. BJ Gough, who started the day in the tenth spot in the batting order, was 1-1. He was hit by a pitch in the third inning, and hit the solo home run to lead off the sixth.

“When we lost to Charlotte on the first night, we got into a situation, where we had to play out of a hole the rest of the way. I'm proud of their effort. Every one of those kids, every one, did something in the tournament that surprised and pleased me.”

Later in the evening, following the Charlotte/Goochland game, Buckingham was awarded the sportsmanship award.

“I'm proud that we got it, but we really didn't have anything to be unsportsmanlike about. Everyone was good to us, and they treated us with nothing but respect. Most any team there could've gotten it. It's an honor for our team that they decided on us.”