On a very hot, but beautiful day in Radford, the finals of the District 3 Dixie Youth Tournament finally got underway after an very unexpected five day break due to area rain and flooding.
In the losers bracket, Christiansburg had to beat Blacksburg twice in order to win the tournament, and they did just that. The rain delay assisted Christiansburg pitchers become eligible, who wouldn't have been otherwise due to Dixie rules requiring 36 hours rest. The Blue Demons had used their top pitchers to get to the Championship game, and they would have been ineligible had the tournament not been delayed due to rain.
In the first game, Christiansburg was led on the mound by the dominate pitching of Clay Clatterbaugh, who was selected to the All Tournament Team first team. Clatterbaugh threw a shut out, 4 hitter for the Blue Demons and kept Blacksburg off balance the entire game. Parker Epperley, Sam Helton, Tyler VandeVord, and Bennett Shealor each had a hit for Blacksburg.
Christiansburg jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the top of the 1st and then was held scoreless for two innings via the excellent pitching of Tyler Vandevord and Sam Helton. But in the top of the 4th, the Blue Demons erupted for 8 runs. Timely hitting and Blacksburg errors contributed to the big inning.
Christiansburg tacked on another run in the top of the 5th to run the score to10-0.
With game one in the books, both teams took approximately a 30 minute break and the “if necessary” game was employed to determine the tournament champion. A coin flip at the plate was done to determine the home team. Blacksburg would win the toss and be the home team.
Once again, Christiansburg jumped out on top 1-0 in the top of the 1st. They also added two runs in the top of the 2nd to take a 3-0 lead.
In the bottom of the 2nd, Blacksburg finally got their bats going. A hard line drive by Ryan Creehan was caught by Christiansburg for the first out, but would be a good sign of things to come. Logan Vance was then HBP and then stole 2B. After a strike out, Tate Harrison hit a hard line drive for a single, advancing Vance to 3B. Harrison would advance to 2B on the throw. Logan Vance scored on a passed ball and Harrison advanced to 3B. Harrison then scored on a passed ball to make the score 3-2, Christiansburg. Scott Hudson then drew a walk to get on base. However, a hard ground ball out ended the inning for Blacksburg with great Christiansburg defense.
Christiansburg bounced right back in the top of the 3rd and scored four runs to extend their lead to 7-3.
In the bottom of the inning, Blacksburg fought back, scoring four runs of their own to narrow the score to 7-6. Joe Bears led off by drawing an all-important walk to get himself on base to get the rally started. Lead off batter, Parker Epperley, then followed with a single, advancing Bears to 2B. Sam Helton hit a single, advancing both runners one base, and loading the bases for Blacksburg. Tyler VandeVord responded by hiting a double, scoring both Bears and Epperley. Helton also scored on the throw while VandeVord advanced to 3B on the same play. Bennett Shealor hit a sac fly to deep CF to score VandeVord. However, two groundouts ended the inning; one being a spectacular back hand play in the hole by Christiansburg’s SS MJ Hunter, that robbed Ryan Creehan of a hit and prevented Shealor from scoring. At the end of three complete innings of play, Christiansburg would lead Blacksburg 7-6.
Blacksburg’s Pitcher, Parker Epperley, held Christiansburg scoreless in the top of the 4th by forcing three consecutive outs with good Blacksburg defense behind him; two pop ups and a ground ball.
In the bottom of the 4th, Blacksburg’s Logan Vance led off with a single, and after two consecutive outs, Vance advanced to 2B on one of the ground outs. Parker Epperley hit a single, advancing Vance to 3B and in an attempt to score, was thrown out at the plate on an incredible throw and catch by the combination of Christiansburg’s left fielder and Christiansburg catcher, Reagan Harris, who had blocked the plate (see pictures in photo gallery).
Christiansburg added a run in the top of the 5th to extend their lead 8-6. Blacksburg was close, but could not respond in the bottom half of the frame. Sam Helton led off with a single, and after a strike out, Bennett Shealor reached on a fielder’s choice, after a force out at 2B. Shealor stole 2B to put himself in scoring position, but a strike out ended the inning.
In the top of the 6th, Christiansburg tacked on 6 more runs to extend their lead 14-6. A couple walks and then a timely single scored two runs, but then two quick strike outs looked like the damage may be contained. However, a double and an infield error contributed to the other Christiansburg runs.
Blacksburg failed to score in the bottom of the 6th and Christiansburg was crowned Tournament Champs for the second year in a row in the Minors Division.
Parker Epperley led Blacksburg on the mound, pitching 5 1/3 innings, scattering 8 hits, walking 6, and striking out 6.
Offensively, Blacksburg was led by Sam Helton, who was 3/3. Tyler VandeVord and Parker Epperley both were 2/3. Logan Vance and Tate Harrison each had one hit.
Congratulations to the five Blacksburg players who were selected by the umpires to the All Tournament team:
Parker Epperley- 1st Team Pitcher
Tyler VandeVord- 1st Team Infielder
Sam Helton- 1st Team Infielder
Bennett Shealor- 1st Team Catcher
Ryan Chreehan- 2nd Team Outfielder
Criteria for team selection was: Overall play, sportsmanship, value to one’s team, and overall attitude and hustle.
Christiansburg placed seven players on the All Tournament team. Pulaski East had four, Radford had three, and Patrick County one.
Congratulations to Blacksburg for an excellent played Tournament and being Tournament runner-ups. The future is bright for both age groups as many quality 10 year olds are moving up to play with returning 11s in O-Zone, and the Minors / Coach PItch has a tremendous amount of very talented 7, 8, and 9 year olds.
In 13 seasons of Dixie Youth Baseball, the Minors Division has captured five District titles and been District runner-up four times. In five trips to the State Tournament, the Blacksburg Minors have been State Champion twice and State Runner-up once. Blacksburg Minors have represented the State of Virginia twice in the World Series, once finishing 5th and winning the exclusive Sportsmanship award.
Awards photos courtesy of Jon Fleming
Tag(s): 9-10 Minors