Washington 8U All-Stars power through losers’ bracket

Published 3:26 pm Saturday, August 1, 2015

DAVID CUCCHIARA | DAILY NEWS ROUTINE PLAY: Shortstop Cade Mixon handles a hard-hit groundball in the second elimination game for the Washington 8U All-Stars on Saturday.

ROUTINE PLAY: Shortstop Cade Mixon handles a hard-hit ground ball in the second elimination game for the Washington 8U All-Stars on Saturday.

By John McCormick

For The Daily News


Washington 8U All-Stars were on the brink of elimination on Saturday morning in the Little Tarheel State Tournament, but Washington was able to knock off Caldwell County, Four Oaks and Benson in back-to-back-to-back games at the Susiegray McConnell Complex to keep their state championship hopes alive.

After losing the first of two games on Friday afternoon, Washington moved into the losers’ bracket of the 8U coach pitch division, forcing Washington to play extra games to stay alive. With the possibility of playing three games on Saturday, it was key for the team to come back fully rested and ready to play on the third day of the tournament.

“We got rested up last night and we came out hitting the ball well today, which is something we didn’t do very well yesterday,” said head coach Zach Mixon. “We got the momentum going and when one kid starts hitting, they all start and then it just keeps rolling along.”

In the first game, Caldwell jumped out to a three-run lead in the first inning only to be shut down by Washington’s defense, until the visitors added two more runs in the fifth inning.

On Washington’s side, the offense erupted with 12 runs coming off of 18 hits. All 12 of Washington’s hitters reached base at least one time. Bryce Williams excelled in the elimination game, going 3-for-3 at the plate with two RBI’s and one run scored.

“Bryce is a super player,” Coach Mixon said. “Offensively and defensively he is just a great player all-around for us.”

The game would end after the fifth inning in a 12-6 Washington victory. The Little Tarheel League rule of not allowing a team to score more than five runs an inning rule was applied.

After a shortened game, Washington had less than 15 minutes before their next matchup with Four Oaks.

The Washington coaching staff and players did not seem phased by the quick turnaround in the hot weather. In the second inning, the bottom half of the Washington lineup jumpstarted the offense once again.

Matthew Jefferson doubled to left field, which brought in Jeffery Dobson for Washington’s first run of the game. Then Williams continued his hot hitting streak with a long double, scoring Dobson all the way from first. Nolan Dixon then hit the ball hard towards the shortstop, who misplayed it, allowing Williams to come in to make it a 3-1 lead.

With Four Oaks scoring their third run in the sixth inning and Washington leaving a runner stranded on base in the bottom the sixth, the elimination game was forced to go into extra innings.

To lead off the bottom of the seventh inning Cayden Pake, who scored the game-winning run the night before, hit a deep triple that rolled all the way to the left field fence. Matthew Jefferson then grounded the ball to the shortstop, with Pake sprinting home and the shortstops throw coming in high, Pake slid in for the game winning run.

In the third elimination game on Saturday, Washington was unhindered by the elements once again, a strong first inning resulting in a 5-2 win over Benson. Williams again led the way with a 2-for-2 performance, while Jefferson and Wright Collins also notched two hits a piece.

In the first inning, Washington strung together five-straight hits, including doubles from Gavin Sawyer and Jefferson, giving the host a commanding 4-0 lead, one the team wouldn’t relinquish.

With Saturday’s three wins, Washington advances to the losers’ bracket semi-finals, where they will face Louisburg today at 10 a.m. The winner of the semi-final game will get Wendell in the 8U state championship at 11:15 a.m.

“All the teams out here our good,” coach Mixon said. “Were excited, we have nothing to lose now.”