The North Carolina players rallied from an early deficit and defeated Piedmont 12-6. The loss ended Piedmont’s run in the double-elimination tournament in Laurel, Mississippi.
“It was an opportunity for our kids to be able to represent our community. It was an overwhelming experience for all of our players, coaches and fans,” Piedmont head coach Chris Hanson said Tuesday. “It turned into a lifetime experience for anybody and everybody that went with us.”
Six 10-year-olds – Jakari Foster, Chaz Pope, Steven Raney, Noah Reedy, Silas Thompson and Hayden Young – and six 9-year-olds – Cassius Fairs, Omarion Foster, Slade Haney, Max Hanson, Jack Hayes and Sloan Smith – comprised Piedmont’s team. Gavin Bass, a 9-year-old who practiced with the team when it appeared Haney might not receive medical clearance to play, also made the trip with the team. Terry Haney and Brian Young were the assistant coaches.
Piedmont batted as the visitors against North Carolina and took a 1-0 lead in the first inning when Reedy doubled to start the game. Hanson’s two-out single got Reedy home.
After North Carolina scored two runs in the home half of the first, Piedmont tied the score with a run in the top of the second. With two down, Jakari Foster walked on four ptches. Haney reached on an error at first base then Omarion Foster had an RBI single.
Piedmont broke the 2-all tie with four runs in the third. Reedy and Hayes walked then Raney singled up the middle to load the bases with no one out. Thompson drove in two runs with a single and Piedmont had runners at second and third following an error in the outfield. Hanson’s ground out to first base scored Raney and Fairs’ sacrifice fly to right field got Thompson home for a 6-2 lead.
The four-run advantage didn’t last long. North Carolina got three runs in the third, three in the fourth and four in the fifth.
Raney, Hanson and Omarion Foster each had two hits. Reedy, Thompson and Jakari Foster had one hit apiece.
On Sunday afternoon, Piedmont defeated the team from Texas 13-12 in an elimination bracket game. Batting as the home team, Piedmont trailed 2-1 after one inning. Reedy had a leadoff single and eventually scored on the second of two Texas errors in the first inning. Texas scored six times in the second for an 8-1 lead.
Piedmont knotted the score at 8-all with a seven-run second inning. Young and Jakari Foster each had a base hit and Haney walked to load the bases. Omarion Foster drove in the first two runs with a single. Haney scored on an RBI single by Smith to make it 8-4. After Omaron Foster scored on an error, Hayes smacked a two-run single and Thompson’s single drove in the tying run.
Five runs in the fourth earned Piedmont the lead for good. Raney led off with an infield hit and Smith ran for him. With two down, Fairs doubled and Pope walked to load the bases. Young’s single scored Smith with the go-ahead run. Jakari Foster followed with a two-run double to make it 11-8. Reedy walked to load the bases again and Hayes had a two-run single to complete Piedmont’s scoring. Texas scored four times in the fifth. In the sixth, the Texans got the potential tying run on base with a leadoff single but Piedmont fielders turned three consecutive ground balls into three consecutive fielder’s choice outs at second base to seal the win.
Piedmont had 15 hits and drew five walks. Jakari Foster, Reedy, Hayes, Thompson and Young each had two hits. Foster, Young, Reedy and Smith each scored twice. Winning pitcher Jakari Foster tossed the first four innings and struck out four. Reedy came on in relief in the fifth with two on and no one out and picked up a save.
Piedmont drew Arkansas representative Texarkana, returning to the World Series for the second year with a number of players who played as 9-year-olds, in Saturday’s opening game and lost 22-2 in three innings. Hanson said his players seemed awed by their initial experience in a World Series game but the Arkansas players didn’t have that problem.
“Their coach talked about how their previous experience really helped them coming into the tournament,” Hanson said.