Meridian squads capture titles
UNDER THE TAG – Long Beach's Chris Castiglia steals third while Meridian's David Zabinski applies the tag during the finals of the 13-year-old Babe Ruth State Tournament.Photo by Paula Merritt/ The Meridian Star
By Tony Krausz / assistant sports editor
July 13, 2003
The Meridian All-Stars scored their most important run of the 14-Year-Old Babe Ruth State Tournament in the opening inning of the team's second game against Long Beach on Sunday.
Long Beach forced a deciding game in the tournament's championship round shutting out Meridian 5-0 in the first contest of the day, but Meridian didn't take long to erase its scoreless streak.
Anthony Taylor drove in Meridian's first run with a double to the wall of left-center field, and Meridian carried the momentum to a 5-1 victory to claim the state title for a second year in a row.
Meridian won the 13-Year-Old Babe Ruth tournament last year, and by virtue of the win on Sunday, the squad will compete in the regional tournament in Bentonville, Ark., which begins on July 25.
Taylor and Walton Mitts teamed up on the mound to keep Long Beach contained to just one run on three hits in the championship game.
Taylor started the game giving up no runs on one hit, with two strike outs, over the first three innings.
Mitts wrapped up the victory allowing one run on two hits, with one strike out, over the final four innings.
Meridian's reliever sealed the game sending Long Beach's last three batters down in order in the seventh inning. Mitts induced Long Beach's first two batters into groundouts, and he got the final batter to pop out to second base.
Meridian slowly increased its lead throughout the game to back up its strong pitching.
After taking a 1-0 lead in the first, Meridian posted two runs in the third inning.
Taylor got the ball rolling in the third, reaching first on a one-out single, and Korey Beckman entered the game as a pinch runner.
The substitute runner kept Long Beach on its toes stealing second and third base, and he scored on a wild throw by the catcher to third for a 2-0 advantage.
Meridian's second run of the third came on a sacrifice grounder from David Covert that allowed Antwon Lockheart, who pinch ran for William Alexander, to score from third with the bases loaded.
Long Beach put its lone run on the scoreboard in the top of the fourth as the team recorded its only two hits against Mitts.
Long Beach's Tino Davis led off the fourth beating out a throw to first base for an infield single, and he scored on another infield single by Billy Childress to reduce Meridian's lead to 3-1.
Meridian quickly got the run back in the bottom of the fourth with a sacrifice fly to left field by Lon Bunt, and the team scored its final run of the game in the bottom of the sixth on another RBI double from Taylor.
Jeremy Barnacastle went 2-for-4 for Meridian, with a single and a double, and Lucas Dickson went 2-for-3 in the win.
In the first game of the day, Long Beach jumped out to an early 4-0 lead scoring two runs in the each of the first two innings.
Brett Carter led Long Beach's attack in the opening game going 2-for-4, with two RBIs, and T.J. Powell went 2-for-4, scoring once.
Keith Swilley picked up the win for Long Beach in the first game allowing no runs on four hits, with three strikeouts, in five innings of work.