South Columbus defeated Dixon 15-5 and Wolfpack Optimist downed East Duplin 12-2 to become the final two teams left standing in the NC Dixie Youth Baseball D2 AAA state tournament. The undefeated Wolfpack and once-beaten South Columbus will meet Friday at 9 a.m. in the championship “round.” A win by Wolfpack secures the state championship. A win by South would force a second “winner-take-all” game for the state title and World Series berth.
If this sounds familiar, it is the same scenario that occurred in the District 2 finals. South Columbus handed Wolfpack Optimist its first tournament defeat (4-2) before WO came back to win (5-2) the “if necessary” game the following night. At that time only Wolfpack Optimist qualified for a place in the AAA D2 state tournament.
But early in the week prior to the tournament beginning, Red Springs opted out. A magic wand was waved and Cinderella (South Columbus) received a pair of glass baseball cleats to use as Red Springs’ replacement. South didn’t show up to the dance to be a wallflower. They won their first two games and met Wolfpack Optimist in the third round. The contest was a tight one, with South holding a 2-1 lead entering the bottom of the fifth. Wolfpack scored three times to earn a 4-2 victory. Both teams put that hard fought game behind them and did what was necessary to meet again in Friday’s finals.
Wolfpack Optimist has run roughshod over all its state tourney opponents except South Columbus. Excluding the South Columbus contest Wolfpack has outscored its four opponents 68-3. None of those runs will matter on Friday. Both teams know they will need to play well to win. Wolfpack has the confidence three wins in four meetings brings. South Columbus knows they can win (because they have) and knows one or two plays could have made the difference in the last two losses.
At stake is a trip to the DYB D2 AAA World Series in Laurel, Mississippi and a date with the Texas state champion on July 30 at 4:45 p.m., CDT (5:45 p.m., EDT).