By Patrick Yost
A Morgan County under-11 youth baseball team won a World Series baseball tournament in Panama City, Fla. last week.
The MC Bulldogs U11 team, under the direction of Head Coach Danny Tillery, finished with a perfect 6-0 record in the Grand Slam World Series. The team, whose core players have been together since they were 8-years-old, were invited to the World Series because it earned qualifying points during the travel baseball season. The team begins practice each January and the season runs until late June, Tillery said.
In the 32 team series, Morgan County was elevated to a bracket with the top nine teams. Last week’s series win marked the first time the team had won a World Series event.
On Tuesday, June 26 the Bulldogs beat Houston, Texas’ Timber Grove Thunder 9-2. In the opening game of the series Dallas Dickerson and a strong pitching outing, going three innings and striking out five. Dickerson gave up one earned run. In the win, the team had 12 hits led by Drew Ainslie’s 2-3 outing.
Also on Tuesday the Bulldogs destroyed the Ascension Giants, a team out of Prineville, La. The Dogs won 12-2 in a game called after the fourth inning. The team combined for 13 hits with Ty Tillery going 3-3 with four RBIs and two doubles. Tilley also pitched two perfect innings. Ainslie also had two hits and struck out six.
On Wednesday during the climb to the championship, the Dogs moved into double elimination mode but never missed a stride, taking out the USA Prime Raiders from Frisco, Texas with a 10-0 victory in a game that was called in the fourth inning. In the game, three pitchers for the Dogs; Caylem Richardson, Davis Strickland and Ainslie all combined for a no-hitter. At the plate Wyatt Singleton was perfect, going 2-2 with two RBIs.
The following day the Dogs faced a 70 mph hurler from the Timber Grove Thunder. In the most dramatic moment in the tournament, Jake Jenkins came to the plate with the bases loaded in the last inning. He made solid contact and sent the ball to short, allowing one run to score in a walk-off 5-4 win. Also in the game, Dickerson pitched the entire game and had seven strike-outs.
On Saturday, in the semi-final game the team faced Tuscaloosa, Al.-based The Bandits. Morgan won 5-2 with Jake Bland going 3-3 at the plate with two RBI’s. Bland also pitched the complete game and had eight strike-outs. The Bandits, Coach Tillery said, were the top ranked Alabama team in the tournament.
In the World Series final, the Bulldogs beat The Cage Baseball, Baton Rouge, La. 3–0. Tillery pitched a complete, shutout game with five strike-outs. At the plate Singleton went 2-2 and ainslie went 1-2 with a solo homer.
Coach Tillery said the tournament victory and the 33 wins the Bulldogs have notched this year were all team efforts. “They’ve done a great job, everybody has contributed from top to bottom,” he said.
The Dogs also recently won a Florida–Georgia showdown tournament recently that pitted the top four U11 Georgia teams against the top four Florida teams in a round-robin tournament.
Tilley said the team has progressed to a known entity in travel baseball. “We’re a top five or six team in the state,” he says.
The team finished the season with a 33-10-2 record.