- BY Joe Chandler
For three years in a row, South Boston and Goochland have squared off for the Virginia Dixie Majors State Baseball Tournament title, with the title swapping hands after each of the two previous meetings.
This year it was tournament host South Boston that did the celebrating, as South Boston edged Goochland 8-4 to go unbeaten and win the state championship. The state title landed South Boston a berth in the Dixie Majors World Series to be played July 28-Aug. 1 in Laurel, Miss.
South Boston defeated Goochland in 2010, only to see Goochland bounce back last year to reclaim the state championship. Now, the title is back in South Boston.
“It’s a little emotional,” said South Boston Manager Justin King who will soon be participating in the World Series as a team manager for the first time.
“I was trying to get up with the guys down there in the outfield, but I couldn’t do it. These are tears of happiness.”
Tears were also shed by some of his players as well.
After the post-game awards ceremony and several minutes of fun holding the state championship trophy and congratulating each other, the South Boston players gathered in the outfield in front of a sign honoring the memory of several league players who recently lost their lives.
There, they gave the state championship trophy to Ronnie and Hope Hammock, the parents of the late Adam Hammock.
It was a somber end to what had been a solid performance by South Boston, one that saw the team nail Goochland hurlers for 11 hits. Starting pitcher Ford Bradshaw held the visitors to seven hits while fanning four batters and scattering four walks before retiring from the mound after almost reaching the league’s mandated 105-pitch count after having faced two batters in the final inning. South Boston also took advantage of four Goochland errors.
“I got tired towards the end,” Bradshaw admitted.
“We were just trying to get outs as quickly as we could. They (Goochland) battle at every at-bat, and make you throw a whole lot of pitches. We were happy about every quick out we could get.”
South Boston got off to a quick start, scoring two runs in the top of the first inning and adding three runs in the top of the second inning to grab an early 5-1 lead.
Ryan Yates opened the game with a single for South Boston, stole second base and scored on a hit by Joe Martin to give South Boston a 1-0 lead. A hit by Ryan Puryear scored Dillon Wazeka, who was running for Martin, to give South Boston a 2-0 lead.
Goochland scored a run on two hits in the bottom of the first inning, but South Boston answered with three runs in the top of the second inning, two of which scored on a Goochland error, to take a 5-1 lead.
A double by Ryan Puryear kicked off South Boston’s third inning, with Puryear scoring when Fluff Trent reached base on a Goochland error on a dropped fly ball to left field.
Goochland countered with a run in the bottom of the third inning, only to see South Boston add a run of its own in the top of the fourth inning on back-to-back doubles by Scott Rickman and Martin to produce a 7-2 lead.
South Boston maintained its five-run cushion until Goochland scored a run in the bottom of the seventh inning to account for the 8-4 final score.
“Baseball is about timely hitting, good defense and good pitching,” King pointed out. “We had all three of those things today, and that’s why we came out on top.”
Puryear led South Boston offensively with three hits and one RBI. Yates and Martin had two hits each, with Martin picking up two RBIs in the game.
Bradshaw, Rickman, Trent and L.J. Barnett each had one hit for South Boston.
Goochland got one hit each from A.J. Ward, Scott Ragland, Brandon Perrin, Jarrett Talley, Dillion Wigthford, starting pitcher Jimmy Wiedmann and J.T. Poff.