The Wilson City Little League Ages 9-10 All-Stars pose after their final game in the NCLL state tournament Thursday in Forest City. Wilson was defeated by Greenville Tar Heel 19-6 in the championship round. Contributed photo
From staff reports
FOREST CITY — Throughout the course of Wilson City Little League’s run in the 2017 Ages 9-10 postseason, Wilson has made a habit of overcoming deficits — including erasing a six-run margin Wednesday night against East Surry.
But needing to win two games to claim the North Carolina Little League Ages 9-10 state title, Wilson dug a hole from which it could not recover Thursday night.
Facing undefeated Greenville Tar Heel, Wilson fell victim to an 11-run top of the first inning and couldn’t fully close the gap on the way to an 19-6 loss.
The result sends Greenville into the Tournament of State Champions, an event it is already set to host at Stallings Stadium. Wilson was foiled 9-6 by Greenville in the opening game of the state tournament.
Wilson was doubled up in the hit column by an 18-9 margin and was guilty of three errors. Head coach Chris Bass noted that defensive breakdowns helped fuel Greenville’s initial surge.
“They hit it and we made errors,” Bass said in a telephone interview Thursday night. “They had hits, and then they had bloopers. It was just one of them innings you just couldn’t stop.”
Despite that, Wilson made every effort to stage another implausible rally and force a second winner-take-all contest. The 11-0 deficit was shaved to 11-6 after four innings, but Greenville responded with three runs in the fifth and five more in the top of the sixth.
Greenville’s bats thumped four homers, including two from Derrion Giddis. Davis Bradley had a two-run shot in the fifth and Parker Watson capitalized on the first Wilson miscue by belting a two-run homer in the top of the first.
Wilson began to chip away in the bottom of the first on a Carter Adams infield single that scored Connor Radford. In the second, Simon Quinn slugged a run-scoring double and Radford, who finished with three hits, hit an infield single that allowed Quinn to touch home.
Josh Taylor tacked on an RBI single for Wilson in the fourth to make it 11-4.
Radford doubled in the fourth, moved to third on a Ryan Bass single and engineered a steal of home to cut Wilson’s deficit to six. On the same play, Bass came around to score on a Greenville error.
“They didn’t hang their heads,” Bass said. “They came out flat. They were flat to start the game, and that’s where the errors come from.”
Bass, who noted that his previous state championship teams in various age groups were able to avoid the loser’s bracket, conceded that the fatigue of fighting through to the title game had taken its toll.
“They’ve played a lot of baseball,” he said. “It took them about the second inning before they got any energy about them at all. But they didn’t hang their head when they got down early. They’ve come back from deficits before.”
James Sawyer picked up the win for Greenville, tossing the first 3 2/3 innings and allowing nine hits. He struck out four and walked two. Carter Adams was the losing pitcher for Wilson after working just one-third of an inning.
Giddis tallied five RBIs for Greenville. Bradley was 4 for 5 with three RBIs and a double to supplement his homer.
Taylor had two hits for Wilson. Joe Glover doubled.
As Bass was reached Thursday night, his weary players were already recovering at a nearby swimming pool.
“Fatigue was more of a thing than anything else,” Bass said. “It was hot and 92 degrees about every day. It takes a lot out of you.”