Natchez 9s wins South State tourney

Published 12:43 am Thursday, July 17, 2008

HATTIESBURG — Natchez 9-year-old Dixie Youth All-Stars coach Gary Farmer says that the best asset of his team is its heart and guts.

And the team once again put those on display in the championship game of the South State Tournament, recovering from a three-run deficit to defeat Copiah 9-8 and win the South State title.

“We were just tired after playing the late game on Tuesday,” Farmer said. “But they never gave up and never thought they’d lose and pulled it off against a very good Copiah team.”

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Natchez actually jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the top of the first inning, but Copiah scored three in the bottom of the inning to cut the lead to 4-3.

After Natchez scored a run in the top of the second, Copiah answered with three in the bottom of the second and two more in the bottom of the third to take a 8-5 lead.

However, after coming back from a five run and four-run deficit in the semifinal game against Laurel, the three-run hole didn’t seem like so much to Natchez.

They erased that lead with four runs in the top of the fourth inning and the relief pitching of Jacob Jenkins made that lead stand up.

Jenkins pitched the final three innings of the game and did not allow a Copiah run.

He also had three hits on the night, including two triples.

“I asked a tough thing of a 9-year-old pitcher, which was to come in there with us down and Copiah fired up,” Farmer said about Jenkins. “What I found out about him is that the more pressure you put on him the harder he plays. He wants to be the man and tonight he was.He thrives on pressure.”

In addition to Jenkins’ three hits, Natchez was led at the plate by Brock Farmer and Christian Day, who both hit doubles in the winning effort.

“Told them tonight, it may not be 12 best players, but this is the best team I’ve ever coached,” Farmer said. “They come back, pick each other up and always seem to get it done no matter if its bottom of order or top. That’s what it takes to be champions why we’re the undefeated South State champions.”

Natchez will now play a three-game series against the North State champions beginning July 25 at Hattiesburg for the right to be crowned state champions.

It would be the second state title in a row for much of the players. As eight-year-olds last year, they won the eight-year-old coach pitch state championship.