Pascagoula ends Rebel League run

Published 12:00 am Saturday, July 26, 2003

MAGEE &045; In these types of situations you’ve got to be a realist.

The reality of the whole Dixie Youth Minor League state tournament was Pascagoula Red was the team to beat, and anything less than a solid game wasn’t going to cut it. True statement, but the Natchez Rebel League All-Stars were always realistic of what they were capable of doing.

Miracle run to the state championship game?

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No surprise, really. But here in the state final, Pascagoula was just the better team as it took an 11-3 win. However, Natchez did not come away empty-handed as it secured the Sportsmanship Award, given to the team whose behavior and fan support was exemplary.

&uot;When you say no one (expected this), me and Gus Perry told Porky (Smith) during the season that if the boys should get on the all-star team we’ll make it to state,&uot; Rebel head coach Tom Middleton said. &uot;Not only would we get there, we’d make a run at it. When we were in the sub-district tournament, I never doubted the players &045; but I doubted myself. I never doubted their talent and their ability.

&uot;It just took some time and different coaching tactics than I’ve used to get them together. I’ve done more fussing than I have been, but they’ve responded to it.&uot;

The run finally ended for the Rebel League after it won eight straight and nine of 11 since starting the all-star season 1-3. So give credit to the Pascagoula Red All-Stars, who earned a spot in the Minor League World Series next week in Florence, S.C., for the first time in the history of its Minor League program after never being able to get past Moss Point.

&uot;We’re tough,&uot; Pascagoula head coach Donnie Carlson said. &uot;We haven’t lost a game this whole way through &045; sub-district, district and here. We’ve been here a couple of times, but this is a good group of kids. When they’re down, they haven’t fallen down. They just got back up. I can’t be any more prouder of them.&uot;

Pascagoula’s hitting was enough to knock down anyone’s pitching, and the team got all but one of its 11 runs with two outs. Natchez rallied early for a 3-1 lead and appeared to have control of the game before Pascagoula put a five-spot on the board in the third to take the lead and in the fifth to close the door.

A five-run, two-out rally in the third put Pascagoula ahead thanks to consecutive doubles from Senquez Golson and Zac Haarala off Rebel League starter Hunter Hatcher.

&uot;They’ve got a good team, especially offensively,&uot; Middleton said. &uot;They reminded me so much of that Natchez team that won three state championships. That’s what we talked about &045; how much we wanted to be like that team. I told them the Pascagoula team reminded me of that Natchez team. That’s where we needed to be.&uot;

In that third inning Hatcher got Trey Williams on an infield grounder to force out Corey Cherry for the second out of the inning, but that brought the top of the lineup and trouble for the Rebel League. Cordaryl Weathersby was hit by a pitch, and Colin Bray’s single scored two runs to tie it up at 3-3.

Golson went full count before driving a laser shot into right center to score two more runs for a 5-3 lead. Haarala’s double then scored Golson for the 6-3 lead that stood until the fifth.

&uot;They’re all heart,&uot; Carlson said. &uot;We’ve been working them in the summer, and it paid off. They wanted to be here, and they were focused. They took it and ran with it.&uot;

The Rebel League couldn’t mount a rally against two Pascagoula relievers after that despite getting baserunners in each inning. In the fourth it put runners on first and second with two outs before Pascagoula made a tough play on a Shiloh Atkins grounder to force out Caleb Upton at second to end the inning.

In the fifth Semmes White reached on a error to lead off the inning, but he got doubled up when Jamon Gray

lined one back to the mound in a hurry to end the inning.

That’s when Pascagoula rallied for five more runs to all but close the door on the Rebel League. Again Hatcher got the second out of the inning before Colin Bray reached on an error to score Destin Russell and Trey Williams for an 8-3 lead.

Haarala singled in Bray, Daniel Murphy singled in Golson and Garrett Odom’s infield single scored Haarala for an 11-3 lead.

&uot;We had a great year looking back on it, but we couldn’t get aggressive enough at the plate when we had to,&uot; Middleton said. &uot;But Pascagoula is really a fine ball club, and I look for them to make a deep run at the World Series. Those guys were going to get their hits, and Hunter Hatcher did a great job. A lot of their hits dropped in on us, and we made some errors. You can’t get to this

point and make errors like we did.&uot;

Natchez answered to an early 1-0 deficit with two runs in the second and one in the third to take the lead. In the second Chase Kyzar’s shot down the right field line was good for a triple to score Christopher Perry, and Kyzar scored on an error for the 2-1 lead.

In the third Avery Middleton walked, moved up two bases on wild pitches and scored on Garrett Smith’s single for the 3-1 lead.

&uot;Natchez has a good group of ball players,&uot; Carlson said. &uot;It’s tough to get down and get back up, and champions

pick themselves up. But I can’t take anything away from Natchez.&uot;