The Meridian Star
On Monday night at Phil Hardin Park, something was different — it was the atmosphere.
With full stands and a loud crowd and a championship on the line, it felt like the playoffs.
"It's a whole different vibe," Coke coach Dusty Webb said. "It's kind of amazing, and laughable at times, because it is 7 and 8-year-old baseball, but they are here to support their kids and the effort they've shown. And that's what it is about, it's not about winning or losing."
The top of the Phil Hardin youth baseball league standings survived the first night of the tournament, advanceing to Tuesday’s doubleheader.
After finishing the regular season with the top two records and receiving first round byes, Stockton Photography and Coke aren’t done yet.
Stockton squeezed past Mr. Discount, 10-8, while Coke ran away from The Meridian Star, 11-5.
Stockton won the regular season title, finishing at 15-3.
"I'm proud of our guys, they've already won a trophy for winning the league, so anything from here is gravy," Stockton coach Chuck Butler said. "Hopefully we will win another one tomorrow."
Monday night's win started grim as Stockton had fallen behind by the third inning. With the bases loaded, Mr. Discount's Jaden Vaughn plated two runs, but was tagged out at first to put his team up, 8-3.
In the bottom of the inning, Stockton retaliated, putting up seven runs to enforce the single-inning run rule and take a 10-8 lead. A scoreless fourth inning and an hour and fifteen minutes spent under the lights made it stand as the final.
"We had one inning were we hit it hard," Butler said. "It was enough, thank goodness ... Seth [Smith] hit hard, Drake [Collum] hit it hard twice, and Bj Roberston hit it hard. We just need to get a whole bunch of them hitting tomorrow night."
Coke strung together their victory by adding up runs over five innings with got big hits from Joshua Buxton, Stephen Michael Mimbs and Shawn Cole.
"The thing about our offense is, in this league one or two guys can really make a difference," Webb said. "At times we've struggled offensively but right now, we have never had from top to bottom, one through 10, be as consistent as they have."
Coke didn't see a single strike out in their second round game against the Meridian Star. Additionally, new bats have blossomed like Cole's.
"He hit three balls really, really hard tonight, Webb said. "He's doing a heck of a job right here as the year ends."
League playoffs continue on Tuesday night at 6 p.m. In the semifinals, Stockton will face Glass Inc., while Coke will take on Subway. The two winners will advance to the 7 p.m. championship game.