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Big inning costs Natchez in elimination loss

GONZALES, La. — The Natchez Dixie Youth 12-year-old All-Stars are used to playing, and winning, tight, closely contested games.

And for three and a half innings Sunday against South Carolina, it looked like they might be on their way to winning another one.

But one disastrous inning is all it took to end those hopes and eliminate Natchez from the Dixie Youth World Series.

South Carolina scored eight runs in the bottom of the fourth inning to break open a 1-1 tie and went on to win 10-4 in the elimination game.

“They had that one big inning, and that’s what you try to avoid,” Natchez coach Terry Moffett said. “One thing you can’t do is let the other team have a big inning. That’s one thing that separates the teams up here.”

After South Carolina jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning, Natchez tied the score in the top of the third when Will Moffett scored on a double by Edwin Byrne.

But any hopes Natchez had of staving off elimination died in the bottom of the fourth.

Cole Gulledge drove home the first run with a single and Robert Gilhuly singled in two more to make the score 4-1.

But the big blow of the inning came off the bat of Coner Sloan, who, with two outs blasted a three-run homer that put the game out of reach.

After the next batter walked, Harrison Vanlandingham poured some salt into the wound with a two-run homer of his own to cap off the huge inning.

“They put together some kids and there were some plays I thought we should have made and didn’t make,” Moffett said. “Luke (Thomas) pitched a good game, he was just unfortunate, but I guess that’s the way the ball bounced.”

To its credit, Natchez didn’t lie down and quit, as they tried to make a game out of it with three runs in the top of the fifth, with the big blow being a home run by Christopher White.

But that was as close as Natchez would get.

South Carolina added one more run in the bottom of the fifth and held Natchez scoreless in the top of the sixth to end the game and send Natchez home.

Even though Natchez was the first team eliminated from the World Series, Moffett said he was glad the players got to experience the event, which included a visit to Alex Box Stadium and meeting with LSU baseball coach Paul Mainieri.

“I told them at the end of the game I wouldn’t have wanted to do this with two finer (assistant coaches, Leroy Myles and Jeff Webb) and these 12 kids and their parents,” Moffett said. “It was a fun ride for all of us. These kids got to play on the biggest stage there is in Dixie Youth Baseball.”