Carroll County’s foray into the Dixie Pre-Majors World Series only lasted two games, but the experience will last a lifetime.
Representing the state of Virginia after winning the state tournament earlier in July, Carroll County’s 15-17-year olds opened the tournament with the host team, Guntersville, Alabama. Down just a run after four innings, things snowballed on Carroll in the fifth as Guntersville went on to win 19-4. In the losers’ bracket on Sunday, Carroll fought valiantly against the North Carolina state champions from Lillington before dropping a 10-5 decision.
“It was a terrific experience. The score might not indicate it, but we played tough. We just let it get away the last inning of the first game,” Carroll County coach Larry Snow said. “The second game, we battled to the end, cut it to 10-5, had runners on. But we played good and it was a good experience. It was certainly a different level of competition. Hopefully the boys can benefit from it, grow from it and start getting ready for next year.”
Even though Guntersville didn’t have to qualify for the tournament as the host team, it brought a lot of firepower with it to the Dixie Pre-Majors World Series. In fact, eight of the team’s players were members of the Guntersville High School 4-A state championship team in Alabama this past spring. Facing off against the pitching ace from that state championship team, Carroll held its own, trailing just 5-4 after four innings.
Snow said Carroll hit the ball extremely well against the Guntersville pitcher. Things fell apart in the fifth, however, as Guntersville put together a 14-run inning to cruise to the 19-4 victory.
“They scored a few runs and it was just kind of a snowball effect after that point,” Snow said. “We just played a good ball team.”
On Sunday, Carroll played the North Carolina state champion in an elimination game. After falling behind 2-0 in the top of the first inning, Carroll answered as Brandon Lineberry’s two-run home run tied the game up at 2-all after one. Lillington scored two in the top of the second, but Carroll answered with one in the bottom half to make the score 4-3. North Carolina eventually extended its lead to 10-3 before Carroll rallied for a pair of runs in the seventh before falling 10-5.
“We played with them. We kept battling and hung in there,” Snow said. “Brandon Lineberry had a great game. He hit a home run, a double and a single. He went 3-for-3 and in his fourth at bat they hit him with a pitch.”
Carroll’s venture into the 2012 Dixie Pre-Majors World Series marked just the third time in history Carroll County has sent a team to a Dixie World Series. Carroll’s 15-16 team advanced to Alabama in 2009, while Carroll first sent a team to the World Series in 1987.
“It’s been great for the boys. They’ve all enjoyed themselves. They have fun no matter what they are doing,” Snow said. “Just the experience of getting to play on this level and seeing what the next level is all about, it just helps them get ready for school ball and the next level they want to go to. It gives them a goal of what they need to strive for to compete on this level. The fact that they keep playing together and staying together, we are probably the only team down here that is from the same high school. Most of these teams are the best from three or four high schools, true all-star teams. We don’t combine with anybody else, so it’s just an honor to be down here playing.”
Snow said the team also wishes to express thanks to the county for making the trip possible, financially and through moral support.
“The opportunity they provided for these kids, they don’t know how much it will mean to them down the road,” Snow said. “Those guys that went in 1987 are all real close, and I’m sure when these guys look back on it over the years it will mean a lot to them.”