The Nacogdoches American 11U All-Stars had to overcome a rain delay on Sunday, which forced them into a three-contest day on Monday on the final day of the Dixie Youth Baseball 11U State Tournament in Texarkana. But despite not capturing the state title, the Nac All-Stars earned a spot in the World Series with a second-place finish and a 3-2 record in the three-day tourney.
The Nacogdoches All-Stars will play in Brookhaven, Mississippi, on July 19-22 in the 11U World Series, battling teams from Louisiana (2), Texas and four from Mississippi in an eight-team field.
The Nac squad is looking for donations for the five-day trip, to help pay for food, lodging and other expenses, according to head coach Hunter Perry. Perry said any money raised will be split evenly between the players. Anyone interested can contact assistant coach Dustin Beavers at (903) 262-7608.
World Series tournament passes for the Lincoln Civic Center Baseball Complex are $25 for ages 13 and up and $15 for ages 6-12. Children ages 5 and under are admitted free. Day passes are $10 for ages 13 and up and $6 for ages 6-12.
It was a strong start to the state tournament for Nacogdoches American, as the all-stars opened play with consecutive wins over Paris and Dayton, capturing one of the victories by the 10-run rule.
“The rainout on Sunday was tough for us because we had to turn around and ended up playing three games on Monday,” Perry explained. “So instead of playing Sunday at 2 p.m., the game was shifted to Monday morning at 9 a.m.”
Nacogdoches was forced to battle Bullard, a team that defeated the American All-Stars twice at the district tournament in Henderson. The contest went back and forth and was tied 5-5. Nacogdoches had runners at second and third when Slade Perry sliced a single over the Bullard third baseman for a walk-off 6-5 victory.
“That was a great game,” the coach said. “We made key hits and defensive plays throughout the game and then Slade came through in the clutch for the game-winning hit.”
That advanced Nac American to the 1 p.m. game against host-Texarkana. If Nacogdoches could win that game, its next opponent would have to defeat them twice to win the championship. But Nac couldn’t get over the hump, falling by a 5-4 count.
“It was a tough loss (to Texarkana) because the boys hit the ball well, played well overall and we got good pitching,” Perry said. “It was just one of those games that we couldn’t get a break and the ball kept going right at someone.”
Nacogdoches then played East Montgomery County, which had lost to Bullard in the opening round of the tourney. Both Nac and EMC had already clinched spots in the World Series going into the final game at 6 p.m., but it was East Montgomery County that came away with an 8-1 win.
“The kids were really tired. We had been out there 12 hours and had played three tough games in the heat,” Perry said. “The kids were fired up the whole time and played really hard even though they were worn out. They gave it their all and deserved a spot in the World Series.”
Perry said this is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for this players.
“Even though some of the players might get to go back to a state tournament again, the odds are they won’t go to another world series, so this is a great opportunity for them,” Perry said.
“They only have three more years of summer ball left and none of these kids have ever been to a state tournament before this year. They played hard and they deserved to move on to the next tournament.”