Sumter County All-Star Baseball Teams experience tremendous success
Published 1:40 pm Thursday, June 29, 2023
From Staff Reports
STATESBORO, GA – It was an exciting week in Southeast Georgia as the Georgia Recreation and Park Association (GRPA) held their State baseball tournaments.
In the 8 & Under Pitching Machine Division, Sumter County’s All-Stars were coached by Jon Taylor. His squad got off to a great start by winning their opening round game by a score of 16 – 5 over the city of Savannah. This would advance them in the winner’s bracket to take on the host team from Effingham County. Sumter County continued their dominance in game two with an impressive 16 – 5 win, sending them into the semi-finals of the winners bracket. It was in Game three where Sumter County ran into a “buzz saw” in the form of the team from Vidalia. Sumter County allowed fifteen runs in the first inning before losing the contest 22 – 0 in three innings, sending them to the loser’s bracket. Their fourth game of the tournament matched them up with the city of Lyons. It was a back and forth battle for the first four innings with Lyons holding a 9 – 8 lead after the fourth inning. However, Lyons would explode for seven runs in the fifth en route to a 19 – 8 victory eliminating Sumter County.
In the 10 & Under Pitching Machine Division, Coach Andy Lindsey’s Sumter County All-Stars opened their tournament with an impressive 17 – 0 thrashing of the Savannah Whippers. In round two of the tournament, Sumter County would battle a tough Wayne County team and hang on to a 5 – 3 win, sending them into the winner’s bracket finals. Game three would be a match-up of two historically good programs: Sumter County and Coffee County. Sumter County experienced a “melt down” inning in the first, allowing 10 runs. After the first inning, Sumter would get back on track, but the hole was just too deep and Coffee County won the contest 11 – 5. This would send the local all-stars to the loser’s bracket finals where they would have a rematch against Wayne County. It was another hard fought contest with Sumter County pulling out the 4 – 2 victory and advancing into the State Championship game. This would match them up once again with Coffee County. Sumter allowed two runs in the first inning and either team scored no other runs in what would turn out to be a defensive gem. Coffee County claimed the GRPA State Championship with a 2 – 0 win and Sumter County’s 10 & Under team finished as the GRPA State Runners-Up.
In the 12 & Under Division, Coach Mike Reeves’ team arrived in Statesboro as one of the tournament favorites and did not disappoint. Sumter County received a bye in round one and faced the winner of Effingham vs. Warner Robins, which turned out to be Effingham County. The Sumter County All-Stars claimed their dominance from the start and defeated Effingham by a score of 13 – 0 in four innings. In the next round, a match-up with a very good Wayne County team would be one of the best games of the tournament. Sumter County was able to hang on with an incredible catch in Centerfield by Noah Hosley to preserve the 8 – 5 win. The win sent Sumter County to the winner’s bracket finals where they would face the host team from Bulloch County. Timely hitting and quality pitching and defense would help Sumter County earn a 6 – 3 win and an undefeated place in the State Championship. Wayne County went on to defeat Bulloch County in the Loser’s bracket finals, setting up a rematch between Wayne and Sumter. Since Sumter was the undefeated team, Wayne would have to defeat Sumter County twice to claim a State Championship and they took care of business in the first game of Championship play. Wayne County hit four home runs in the contest en route to a 13 – 2 win over Sumter and sending it to the “IF NEEDED” game. Here, Coach Mike Reeves sent Christian Blanchard to the mound, where he delivered four quality innings. They followed that up with Clay Hicks slamming the door and Sumter County would win the title with a 6 – 3 score. This was the first State Championship in the 12 & Under Division for Sumter County since 1990.
“I am extremely proud of all of our teams”, said Executive Director Tim Estes. “These guys represented our County well on the field and carried themselves well. Our volunteer coaches did a tremendous job of leading these teams in a way that represented our County with dignity. I also must give a great deal of credit to Coach Jeff Fussell who manages our youth baseball program. The way he organizes our leagues and oversees these teams is second to none. The fact that all three of our all-star teams finished among the elite in the state and having two teams in the state finals is a testament to Jeff’s work. We were also very well represented with hundreds of fans for these three teams.”