(Awards photo taken just as thunder sounded at the field)
by Dean Fox
After a long weekend of baseball, the Rawlings Southeast Prospects could finally call themselves one thing Sunday night: Champions.
The Prospects got a five-run fourth inning and went on the win the Big South Regional Championship 13u bracket by claiming a 5-2 victory over the New Balance Elite Mavericks. Mason Baker had a three-run double and Abe Goolsby got the win with four strong innings on the mound.
The game was called due to a thunderstorm in the bottom of the fifth.
"It's been quite a season for us," Rawlings coach Ben Hayslip said. "We've had some ups, we've had some downs, we've had some people get hurt -- just about everything that can happen to a team. They saved their best for last in the biggest tournament of the summer."
The Mavericks opened the scoring in the top of the first when Grant Snider singled and eventually scored on Evan Cardwell's grounder. The Mavericks were poised to score again, but left fielder Hezy Scott threw out a runner at the plate to end the frame.
Johnny Pfefferle tripled to lead off the second inning and scored on an errant pick-off throw, pushing the Mavericks' lead to 2-0.
That lead was erased in the bottom of the fourth. Three straight walks to open the inning loaded the bases, and Rawlings tied it up when Kaden Wilks scored on an error and Knox Roberts came home on a wild pitch. It appeared the Mavericks would get out of the inning, but with two out, Baker hit a 3-and-2 pitch into center for a three-run double.
"He came up big," Hayslip said. "He always seems to have a big knack for coming up when we need it."
The Prospects' semifinal win was a thriller, with Rawlings rallying for a 10-8 win over the Clarksville Orioles. Baker's two-run single highlighted a four-run fifth inning that turned a two-run deficit into a 6-4 lead, and Rawlings held on for the win.
Adam Gordon came into pitch with the bases loaded and one out and got a strikeout and a flyout to secure Rawlings' spot in the title game.
Rawlings was the No. 3 seed for the tournament, winning three pool games by a combined seven runs and then beating the Warthogs 7-4 in a quarterfinal.
The Mavericks were the tournament's No. 5 seed. They lost their first pool-play game but roared back to score 34 combined runs in their next two outings. After an 8-3 win over the Murfreesboro Blacksox in a quarterfinal, they reached the title game with an 13-2 semifinal victory over the Old Hickory Generals. The Mavs took control of the game with a 10-run third inning.