Americus Travelers finish as national runners-up
Published 1:06 pm Monday, July 8, 2019
From Staff Reports
PANAMA CITY BEACH, FL – The Americus Travelers 14u baseball team made it all the way to the national finals of the Grand Slam World Series of Baseball, but fell in the championship game to Diablos Gold (DG) from Dunwoody, GA by the score of 10-2 on Saturday, July 6, at Frank Brown Park in Panama City Beach, FL.
In spite of the loss, the Travelers still finished their season as national runners-up.
“I couldn’t ask any more from our guys,” Americus Travelers head coach Tim Estes said. “They gave maximum effort all week against some very good baseball teams from all over the country. This program is about developing players for success on their high school teams and we are confident that every one of them is prepared for the varsity level of high school baseball.”
The Travelers began the day undefeated in the double-elimination tournament and faced DG for the right to go to the championship game. Unfortunately, the boys from Dunwoody, GA defeated the Travelers in a low-scoring affair by the score of 2-1. Chase Ledger pitched seven solid innings, giving up two runs on six hits and striking out four. Caden King led the Travelers’ offense by going 2-for-3.
The loss put the Travelers into the losers bracket with a matchup against the Oklahoma Mudcats. In this game, they bounced back with a 6-4 come-from-behind win. Trailing 4-3 in the top of the fourth inning, the Travelers scored three runs on four hits, including an RBI double by Tripp Thomas. That would seal the deal for the Travelers, putting them in the national title game against DG in a rematch.
Unfortunately for the Travelers, the team from Dunwoody, GA was too much to handle the second time around. The Travelers only trailed 3-2 going into the fourth inning, but DG score three runs in the fourth and four in the fifth to claim a 10-2 victory and the national championship. Dylan Davis and Landon Knight each had two hits in this game for the Travelers and both drove in RBIs.
Owen Lamb started on the mound for the Travelers, but struggled to find the strike zone. Lamb gave up three runs on six walks and struck out one in two innings pitched. Landon Knight came on in relief of Lamb. Knight pitched a little over two innings and gave up seven runs on seven hits. He walked two and struck out one.
Another crucial factor in the Travelers’ loss in the national title game was the fact that they committed four errors.
The Travelers got off to a good start in the top of the second inning. Dylan Davis and Jack Clark both singled to put runners at first and second with nobody out. Later on in the inning with two outs, Knight drove in Davis on an RBI single to give the Travelers a 1-0 lead. DG responded with two runs in the bottom of the second, but the Travelers fought back by tying the game on an RBI bunt single by Davis in the top of the third.
Unfortunately, that would be the final run scored by the Travelers. DG responded with three runs in the bottom of the third to take the lead for good. They followed that up with four runs in the fourth on singles by Thomas Termini and Dylan Reid, along with an RBI double by Cooper Kuriger to take a 10-2 lead. Due to the mercy rule, which was eight runs after five innings, the game ended after the fifth inning with DG winning the game and the national championship.
The Travelers finish the 2019 season with an overall record of 20-9-1.
After the tournament was over, assistant coach Jeff Fussell announced that he would be retiring from coaching to spend more time with his grandchildren. “Jeff has been on our staff for six years and has influenced dozens of young men,” Estes said. “He will be missed and Travelers baseball is better because of his contributions.”
The Americus Travelers Baseball Program has brought many players together over the years and fostered a since of team chemistry, but this year, the team brought two people together for a different type of “team chemistry”. After the tournament ended, Assistant Coach Jarrod Wall, one of Estes’ former players, proposed to Estes’ daughter, Lexie. Of course, she said yes. “They connected five years ago when Jarrod was playing for the Travelers,” Estes said. “He felt like sense Americus Travelers Baseball brought them together, it was a fitting place and time to propose. We are thrilled for both of them.”