Saluting Buckingham’s Major stars
As we congratulate the area baseball and softball teams that achieved great success this summer, we need to give a standing ovation to the Buckingham County Majors All-Star squad. The Buckingham boys were thrilling to follow from start to finish this year.
They hosted the 2018 Dixie Youth Baseball Majors All-Star State Tournament at Gene Dixon Sr. Memorial Park. The host of the state tourney has an automatic berth in the event and does not need to compete in a district tourney to qualify, so this means I did not have a preview of what the 2018 incarnation of the team was capable of ahead of time. After a few games, it became obvious that Buckingham was possibly the favorite to win the whole tournament.
There were many things to cite about the team in the course of explaining why it was so successful. One that jumped out to people was the incredible ability of Justin Gunter on the mound. Richard LeSueur had a front row seat for all of the state tournament games as he and Frank Shanaberger broadcast them on Kickin’ Country 92.9 WVHL-FM, and LeSueur said Gunter was pitching in the high 60s to low 70s.
In my interview with Buckingham Majors Manager John Toney, he noted that a key to the team’s success was its remarkable depth on the mound. “We’ve got 12 pitchers,” Toney said. “That’s very rare to see 12 people that can throw at this age group.”
The team had an array of heavy hitters on offense, including Cam Newton, Camden Allen, Jake Carter and Gunter, among others. Buckingham faced a significant challenge from a Gary Walker-managed all-star team out of Charlotte County that was remarkably strong this year.
The boys also found themselves in a 6-0 hole against the Amelia American All-Star team in the first game of the championship round. But the host team never lost a game in the tourney, showing it could win contests in a variety of ways. Victories came via blowouts, a comeback and clutch offense in a defensive thriller.
Representing Virginia in the Dixie Youth Baseball Majors World Series for the second consecutive year, the Buckingham All-Stars made county history with their performance in Lumberton, North Carolina.
Toney noted that “I know we’re the first Buckingham team to ever win more than one game in a World Series” — at any age level.
The team went 2-2 during the double-elimination World Series, with its wins coming in lopsided fashion. It eliminated Arkansas with a 12-2 triumph and eliminated the host team by handing it a 10-1 defeat. Buckingham’s only losses of the summer came in tight, competitive games — a 4-0 defeat against Louisiana, the World Series runner-up, and a 3-0 defeat against North Carolina, directly before Carolina was eliminated by the World Series winner, South Carolina.
As if this all wasn’t enough reason to celebrate the Buckingham boys, one more reason came at the conclusion of the World Series — Virginia was selected out of the 12-team field to receive the tournament’s sportsmanship award.
For everything the Buckingham County Majors All-Star team has accomplished this summer, I offer my sincere congratulations.
The team was comprised of the following members:
Shawn “Bubba” Garceau Jr.
Coach Walter Edwards Jr.
Coach Travis Hicks
Manager John Toney
TITUS MOHLER is the sports editor for The Farmville Herald and Farmville Newsmedia, LLC. His email address is Titus.Mohler@FarmvilleHerald. com.