Greater Loudoun’s tournament run comes to a close
Greater Loudoun’s run in the 2012 Babe Ruth 14-Year-Olds Southeast Region Baseball Tournament surprised even head coach Tim Owen.
“I didn’t think we would do this well, honestly,” Owen said. “When you sit back and look at it, we’re quite pleased.”
Greater Loudoun Babe Ruth’s tournament run concluded following an 11-10 loss in eight innings to Monroe (Ala.) on Aug. 6 at Fireman’s Field in Purcellville. But not before the host team racked up three wins and was the last Virginia team standing.
The Southeast Regional tournament brings together top teams from Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia. The 12 teams compete in a double-elimination style format. In order to qualify, teams generally have to finish first or second in their respective state tournament (North Carolina and Tennessee are additionally subdivided into western and eastern portions). The winner of the regional tournament travels to Murray, UT for the Babe Ruth World Series later this month.
Although Greater Loudoun finished sixth in its respective state tournament, they qualified for regionals as the tournament host.
Owen encouraged his boys to just take advantage of the opportunity to be in the tournament.
“We’re the host, so we get a team in,” Owen said. “I’ve been stressing with the boys to enjoy that part, get to know the teams and the players and have fun.”
In order to prep the boys for the tournament, Owen had his team practice and play against older and higher-caliber teams.
“All through the summer we played them up,” Owen said. “We played them against a lot bigger and a lot stronger teams so they’re used to the harder pitching and really close games.”
Owen’s strategy proved to be effective early, as Greater Loudoun outlasted Greenville (N.C.) 7-6 in their opener Aug. 2. Pitcher Hank Biggs struck out 14 in the win and Loudoun combined for 11 hits.
Loudoun continued to roll through Aug. 3, shutting out South Carolina state champion, the District One Youth Sports Cardinals 12-0 in five innings.
But Loudoun hit a roadblock on the fourth day of the tournament when they played Border Belt (N.C.), losing in an 18-6 blowout. The boys were able to recover, however, defeating Arlington, the Virginia state champion, 4-3 in an extra-innings nailbiter. Biggs tossed 11 strikeouts and Corey Curry went 3 for 4 to lead the offense. With Loudoun’s triumph over Arlington, the hosts were the last Virginia team standing.
But Monroe proved to be too much. Loudoun led 10-7 going into the bottom of the seventh before Monroe rallied to tie the game. In the eighth inning, Monroe placed runners on first and third and an RBI single proved to be the difference.
Owen said the boys are understandably disappointed following the tough loss. But Owen is confident in a week they will look back at their tournament run with pride.
“I think they’ll look back and be happy,” he said. “I think they went even further than they thought possible.”
-Greater Loudoun 7, Greenville (N.C.) 6
-Greater Loudoun 12, District One Youth Sports (S.C.) 0 (5 inn.)
-Border Belt (N.C.) 18, Greater Loudoun 6
-Greater Loudoun 4, Arlington 3 (8 inn.)
-Monroe (Ala.) 11, Greater Loudoun 10 (8 inn.)
-Game one photos by Rick Wasser
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