11U Red Devils win 3rd place in Dizzy Dean World Series
“To make the decision to try out for All Star baseball is not one any parent should make lightly. The summer is spent working hard and traveling to places far away at crazy hours. The 11U Red Devils have done just that. Their team motto is ‘Dedication’ and that is truly what we have seen this summer.” - Alicia
After winning the championship in the biggest Dizzy Dean 11U District in GA, the Devils decided to take their game on the road to the Dizzy Dean World Series in South Haven, Mississippi. The Series began on July 14th with an opening ceremony and a time for the players to trade pins with their logo on it with other teams playing in the Series. The DD World Series is a double elimination tournament. If you win, you stay in the winner’s bracket and play one game per day. If you lose, you drop down to the loser's bracket and play double headers until you lose and go home. The math is simple, win.
The Devils woke up early Saturday morning for breakfast between 6 and 6:30 AM. This hotel breakfast becomes the routine for the Devils all week. Afterwards, they head out with the coaches to warm up at a nearby field at 7:30 AM where the temperatures were already near 90 degrees. This gave the players time to focus and get ready for the game. The dedicated coaches did this before the games started every day.
On Saturday, the first game was at 9am against the Huffman Vikings from Alabama. The Devils came ready to win and had a huge second inning gaining a 9 run lead over the Vikings. The Devil’s pitching was on point and allowed only 1 hit the entire game. The game ended with a mercy rule in the 4th inning with Devils winning 16-1. The Devils remain in the winner’s bracket. Day one’s goal – accomplished.
Devils woke up fired up and ready to play on Sunday. Devils faced the Jefferson Parish All Stars from Louisiana. This was a very hard fought game. Every hit and every play the Devils made was crucial to the game’s outcome. Devils pitching was once again on fire with 9 strike outs during the game. After three innings the score was 1-0 Devils. Beginning the fourth inning, the two teams started trading knockout punches. The Devils leading 3-2 after four innings. The fifth inning was especially intense. Both teams had runners all over the bases throughout the game. Great plays and better pitching kept powerful offenses at bay. In the top of the fifth, the JPRD squad land a solid blow scoring 2 key runs going ahead 4-3. The JPRD pitcher was tough on the Devils in the fourth and came out ready to close it in the bottom of the fifth. The Devils reach on a walk and its rally time. A fielder’s choice followed by a single and stolen base has the Devils with the winning run on second base with one out. The batter steps in, strike. Ball one. Strike two. The batter steps back in staring down the pitcher. Ball two. A 2 ball, 2 strike count, 1 out and runners on second and third. Tension is building. Foul Ball. The pitcher toes the rubber, gets the sign and deals, ball three. Full count. The baserunners are focused and pumped. The dugout is electric and loud. The pitcher climbs back on the perfectly manicured dirt mound and looks in… from the stretch. The big strong right hander delivers another fastball and ping - a line drive single just off the outstretched glove of the left fielder as he dives to his left. Both runners freeze, wait to see the ball on the turf, and off to the races, both score! The final score 5-4 with Devils taking the win and remaining in the winner’s bracket. Both teams fought hard and the 100 degree heat was the last thing on either team’s mind. Day two goal – accomplished.
Monday the Devils hit the field ready to play the reining GA state champs, Tallapoosa Rebels. The Devils again are the home team and are leading after the 2nd inning – score 1-0. In the top of the 3rd inning, the Rebels began with a couple of hits and finished with four runs. The Devils were down 4-2 after three played. The Rebels offense continued its efficient ways scoring 6 in the fourth. The Devils managed 7 hits, but also smashed four line drive outs that ended rallies leaving 5 runners on base for the game. Final score was 10-2 with Tallapoosa winning. Day three goal – move to plan B (survive). This was a character building game, one where the Devils faced a new level of pressure and had to figure out how to pull from within. We have 30 minutes to refocus and get ready to play or go home. The Devils move to loser’s bracket and must win every game from here on out.
Until this point all of our games had been played at 9am and we were off the fields by 11am. The Mississippi heat is no joke with feel temperatures around 105 degrees.
Devils move to an adjacent field and play the Greenville All Stars from Mississippi who just finished slugging it out with the Jefferson Parrish team to advance. The Devil’s bats were on fire with 15 hits and 3 doubles during the game. The Greenville All Stars put up a good fight towards the end of the game but Devils defense held. Final score was 12-6 with Devils returning to play on Tuesday. Plan B Survive – accomplished. Devils went home hot and tired but excited to play another day. At the end of the game, the players were given Final Four t-shirts, hats and helmets by the Dizzy Dean Organization. The Devils had made it to the Final Four!
On Tuesday, the Red Devils faced the Corner All Stars from Alabama. The Devils came out hot and had 13 hits in the game. All 6 innings must be played in championship games and the game lasted 2.5 hours in the blazing Mississippi heat. The Devils led 3-0 after the first and the score remained that way until the third when the score was 4-2 Devils. The Devils tack on 2 more in the top of the fourth before the shootout began. The Devils score 2, Corner matches. The Devils score 3 more in the sixth, but that was too much for Corner as they came away with 2 runs. The final score was 11-6 with the Devils winning. Because of the long play time, Devils only had 30 minutes to rest between games. The temperature was close to 100 degrees. Parents and coaches worked hard to cool the players off and plan for the next game based on the available pitching.
Game two on Tuesday was scheduled for a noon start and the temperature is near 100 degrees and hotter than that on the field. The boys had 30 minutes to hydrate, cool off and get something to eat. Their next opponent was the GA District 3 Champs – Sandy Plains Cougars. The winner has the right to play Tallapoosa again for the championship. Both the Devils and Cougars have single losses at the hands of the Rebels. Only three teams left. All three are from Georgia. The loser goes home. The Devils win the toss and are the home team. No time limit, 6 innings of baseball. After one inning, the Devils are up 1-0. Sandy Plains answer in the second with four and the fireworks happen in the third with the Cougars scoring three and the Devils scoring two. The Devils add another run in the fourth and hold in the fifth. After 5 complete, the score is 7-4. The Devils are going into the sixth inning and have surpassed five hours of play for the day. Multiple timeouts have been called on both sides to run water or otherwise take care of the players in this heat. The Dizzy Dean Tournament Officials and Umpires did an excellent job helping the coaches of both teams look after the health of these players. The Devils are digging deep, but unfortunately give up 5 in the top of the sixth and lost to the Cougars 12-4.
The 11U Red Devils won 3rd place in the Dizzy Dean World Series. It was an awesome experience and we could not be more proud of the players. It is these experiences that help the Devils learn to deal with the struggle and pressure that comes at these levels of the game. It will be these memories that they carry with them, and these experiences and lessons that they carry forward in life. The sportsmanship demonstrated by the teams we faced and our own Devils was outstanding. Druid Hills Community, your 11U DHYS Red Devils represented you very well in South Haven, Mississippi, carrying forward a tradition of excellence on and off the field.