Meridian All-Stars ready for Babe Ruth World Series
By By Jeff Byrd / staff writer
Aug. 15, 2002
The champions from the Babe Ruth Southwest Regional will head down to New Orleans this morning to catch a plane that will eventually get them to Clifton Park, N.Y. for the start of the Babe Ruth 14-year-old World Series.
Manager Larry Vick's Meridian All-Stars completed its final pre-tournament workout at Meridian Community College on Wednesday evening. The team will be bused to New Orleans this morning where they will fly to Philadelphia, Pa. There they will get a connecting flight to Albany, N.Y.
Clifton Park is a suburb of the Albany area, the state capital of New York.
Festivities for the 10-team World Series gets underway on Friday at the Clifton Commons, site of the week-long competition.
Vick said the week ahead is a daunting project but a great reward for having won the Southwest Regional last week at MCC. Meridian went unbeaten in the tournament, winning five games among which was a 7-3 decision over Tri-County (Texas) in the finals.
Vick and his staff of Rob Bullock and Jerry Dean are hoping that last year's experience will pay off. Meridian finished third in the 13-year-old World Series, making the national semifinal round.
The key difference between the World Series and a regional is the pool play. The 10 teams have been divided into two pools, an American Division and a National Division. The top four teams advance to the semifinals where it is single elimination. The national championship game is set for Aug. 24.
Meridian will be in the National Division along with the host Clifton Park Yankees, Hazel Del Metro, Wash.; State College, Pa.; and Pittsburg, Kan. The American Division is made up of: Leominster, Mass.; Harris Township, Ind.; Mobile, Ala.; Tri Valley, Calif.; and Guilderland, N.Y.
Meridian's first game will be on Saturday at 7 p.m. against the host Clifton Park Yankees. This will be the first of four pool games for Meridian. They will play one game each day before getting a day of rest on Wednesday.
All of the Meridian games can be heard locally on WMOX 1010 AM.
On Sunday at 12:30 p.m., Meridian takes on Hazel Del Metro, Wash., the champions of the Pacific Northwest Regional. Monday night at 7 Meridian faces State College, Pa. who won the Mid-Atlantic Regional title. State College is the home of Penn State University.
Meridian's final pool game will be against the Midwest Plains Regional winner Pittsburg, Kan. on Tuesday at 11 a.m.
Before the tournament gets underway, players will be able to test their skills in both a home run derby and a basic skills contest. On Friday night, a champions banquet will be held with the guest speaker being former Boston Red Sox player Jim Rice.
On Saturday morning, teams will participate in an 8 a.m. parade through Clifton Park. Opening ceremonies are at 9 a.m. at Clifton Common.
During its run to the Southwest title, Meridian outscored its foes 31-12. Tournament MVP Tyler McMullen won three games, including a key 5-4 win over Tri-County in relief. Corey Hart picked up a win and a save while J. Stoddard won the opening game over Lumberton (5-3).
The basic Meridian line-up has either Clark Bullock or J. Stoddard leading off and playing second base. Drew Snider is the shortstop and McMullen plays catcher when he is not on the mound.
Cordera Eason, who hit a monster home run against Tri-County in the regional, patrols center field. Tyler Vick is in left and Nathan Peden can either catch or play third, Hart plays first when he is not on the mound.
Meridian has a versatile bench with Ryan Bennett, Justin Baylor, Cory Griffin, Drew Edwards, Dane Skinner and Kyle Wiggins can all draw starts in the outfield or infield. Ricky Gardner is used as the team's primary relief guy. He pitched at least two innings of relief in three of the first four games played.