15-and-under All-Stars fall in World Series quarterfinals
Two games are all that separated the Greenville boys 15-and-under All-Star team from a World Series championship.
But those hopes were dashed Saturday evening after falling to a talented team based out of Lakeland, Fla.
Though the Greenville 15-and-under All-Stars didn’t take a first-place finish at the state level, the team was still invited to participate in the World Series tournament alongside top-notch competition from Texas, Louisiana, Florida, Tennessee, South Carolina and Georgia.
Sensing that his team lacked a certain sureness compared to the intimidating 20 teams they’d be facing, Randall Petty, head coach of the 15-and-under team, told his team to enter their first game against West Georgia (the state winners for Georgia) with confidence.
They did that and then some.
“I told them that I want them to intimidate the other team,” Petty said.
“I want you to act confident, and be confident. And that’s what they did. They came out and poured it on from the beginning, and didn’t let up.”
Greenville defeated West Georgia handily by a margin of 15-0, with pitcher Jamil Thompson earning a no-hitter in the process.
“They only got one man on base,” Petty said. “The first batter of the game walked, and we picked him off before he got off first base. The only people on our team that touched the ball were our pitcher, catcher and first baseman.
“And he did it with only 35 pitches. It was unreal, how he just shut them down.”
The remainder of Greenville’s tournament experience proved rather unusual, as their second opponent was a no-show.
Following Thursday and Friday’s pool play, the team also received a bye in the first round, earning a trip to the semifinal round alongside the remaining seven teams left in the World Series tournament.
By that time, the stakes—and the level of competition—were much higher.
“We played a team from North Lakeland, Fla., and you could tell they knew what they were doing,” Petty said.
“We played them a great game, but we ended up losing 7-5.”
Petty also extended thanks to the City of Greenville for helping to make the World Series experience even more memorable.
“The City of Greenville just went all out in taking care of us,” Petty added.
“They put us up in hotel rooms for the state tournament and fed us, and they did the same for the World Series tournament. And I want to put a big thanks out to Corey Thigpen for taking care of us with whatever we needed. We had a day off Friday, and they paid for the kids to go to a water park down there. The City just took care of us because they felt like the kids deserved it.”
Despite the team coming up a little short, Petty said that he was immensely proud of what the team was able to accomplish.
“The other team was probably more talented than we were, but our boys just stayed right there with them,” Petty said.
“Lakeland has more than 100,000 people in that area, and Greenville’s got not nearly that many. So my little group of country boys did a great job.”
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