YORK — The Hickory Grove Braves captured the Dixie Youth Baseball O-Zone Tournament championship and the Hickory Grove Bears won the Minor League Tournament title Thursday.
The Braves held on to defeat the Intimidators 11-8, while the Bears nudged the York Tigers in a 9-7 nail-biter.
Both championship games were closely-contested, much to the delight of energetic fans representing all four teams.
“We had good games with the Intimidators during the regular season,” said Braves head coach Mike Carroll after the championship showdown. “We beat them twice by one run and they beat us by eight runs in the regular season.”
MJ Comer was the winning pitcher as the Braves survived another close game with the never-give-up Intimidators team.
“MJ pitched a great game for us,” said Carroll. “It was a great team effort and I am proud of our kids.”
With the teams deadlocked at 8-all after four innings, the Braves pushed across three runs in the fifth inning to nail down the championship and finish the season with 14 wins and only two losses.
Carroll said participation was active this year as in years past.
“We had 15 kids this year,” he noted. “Hickory Grove kids seem to come out of the woods to play baseball.”
Intimidators coach Aaron Benfield echoed Carroll’s sentiments.
“We had some great battles with the Braves this season,” said Benfield. “Today was a closely-played game for the tournament championship.”
He added: “We have a good group of kids who gave great effort throughout the season.”
The Dixie Minors championship game had the crowd on edge from start to finish, with the Tigers extending the Bears to the limit before bowing by a scant two runs (9-7) in a climatic showdown.
“We have a great group of kids who never give up,” said Bears head coach Tommy Ashley after the grueling showdown with the Tigers. “We came from behind in a lot of games this year.”
Ashley talked about the Bears’ remarkable turnaround this season. “We finished 3-8 last year and improved to 10-0 this season,” said Ashley, beaming with pride.
Tigers head coach Justin Thompson was upbeat after the game, despite the narrow loss the Bears.
“We have a great group of kids,” said Thompson. “I enjoyed coaching them all season. I couldn’t ask for a better group. I am proud of them.”