Bulldog travel ball team takes fifth at World Series
The torrential downpours of rain did not hinder the spirits of the 9U Bulldogs travel baseball team as they took fifth place in the 9U Global World Series held in Gulfport this past weekend. After being rained out on Thursday the Bulldogs started their tournament on Friday. The Bulldogs came out of pool play with a record of 2-1 to claim the fourth seed to start the playoff bracket.
On Saturday, the first day of double elimination, the Bulldogs secured a 1-1 record setting them up to compete for fifth place on Sunday. With an 11-4 win over the Renegades from Louisiana the Bulldogs claimed fifth place and ended the tournament with an overall record of 4-2.
Members of the Brewton Bulldogs were Carson Walters, Jaxson Flores, Brady Luther, Miller Hart, Kyle Blevins, Whitley Lisenby, Jackson Steele, Nolan Atkinson, Blake Jernigan, Jackson Ray, and Landon Jernigan.
Coaches for the Bulldogs were Michael English, John Hart, and Leroy Steele.
OCEAN SPRINGS BLUE SOX 5
Carson Walters held the Blue Sox from Ocean Springs to five runs over four innings to give the Bulldogs their first win in pool play on Friday.
In the first inning the Bulldogs scored four runs when Kyle Blevins, Miller Hart, Blake Jernigan and Landon Jernigan all crossed home plate. The defense worked equally as hard giving up one run in the first, two in the third, and two in the fourth. The Bulldogs would go on to add one run in the second by Miller Hart and three runs in the third by Hart, Nolan Atkinson and Jaxson Flores. In the bottom of the fourth the Bulldogs scored their final two runs by Landon Jernigan and Jackson Ray. The game was called after four innings due to time.
In game two, the Bulldogs lost to Mississippi’s Hurricanes 10-5.
Hart scored the only run in the first inning after singling for Brewton. The Bulldogs add two more in the third and two more in the fourth.
Leading the way offensively for the Bulldogs were Hart and Blevins—both with one hit a piece. Hart scored once and Blevins scored twice. Jackson Steele and Blake Jernigan contributed on the mound for the Bulldogs.
MISSISSIPPI BUCKS 0
Friday’s game three for the Bulldogs was against the Mississippi Bucks and Brewton won 9-0. On the mound for the Bulldogs was Whitley Lisenby with Blake Jernigan earning the save. The Bulldogs started their offense in the second inning scoring three runs before the rains came and caused a delay. When the game resumed, the Bulldogs picked up right where they left off scoring two runs in the top of the third and four in the fourth. Leading the way offensively was Landon Jernigan with two hits followed by Nolan Atkinson, Walters and Hart with a hit apiece.
The Bucks offense was completely silenced by Whitley Lisenby who went four innings striking out seven.
OCEAN SPRINGS BLUE SOX 8,
The Bulldogs didn’t fare as well against the Blue Sox in the first game of bracket play on Saturday losing 8-3. The three runs were scored by Ray, Atkinson and Blevins. On the mound for the Bulldogs was Brady Luther going three innings and Jackson Steele going two innings.
MISSISSIPPI BUCKS 3
Saturday’s game against the Bucks proved to be the same as the previous day’s game. The Bulldogs scored four runs in the first inning with back-to-back doubles by Blake Jernigan and Jackson Ray. Heading into the third the Bucks remained close only trailing by two. Back-to-back-to-back singles by Ray, Atkinson and Walters put the game on ice. The Bulldogs closed out the game scoring one more time in the fourth. Lisenby got the win with Atkinson getting the save.
Sunday’s 11-4 win against the Renegades put the Bulldogs in fifth place to end the tournament. The Bulldogs outscored the Renegades 5-1 in the first inning with runs scored by Hart, Blake Jernigan, Jackson Ray, Landon Jernigan and Jackson Steele. The Bulldogs continued to hit through the order in the next inning putting three more runs on the board from Kyle Blevins, Miller Hart and Blake Jernigan. The Bulldogs finished off the Renegades in the third by adding three more runs by Blevins, Hart and Blake Jernigan. Carson Walters picked up his second win of the tournament to finish in fifth place out of 10 teams in their last game for the team this summer.
Michael English heads up the local team for the Bulldogs.
“The reason we had to go to Gulfport for the World Series is because you are required to play in so many tournaments in your state to be eligible for the World Series in Orange Beach,” English said. “We needed to have played in our stat tournament, but since all our kids were already playing in other activities and on different all-star teams, we could not play in our state tournament. I had to call USSSA and tell them we couldn’t and it was hard to penalize us when we have to play in our recreation league. They told us they understood and that the Orange Beach tournament was full anyways. So I asked them what I could do and they told us to go to the World Series in Gulfport.”
English said the team went down to Gulfport earlier in the season, which was good, but they caught a bad break earlier in the week because the opening ceremonies were flooded out.
“The next day we were supposed to start our pool play games on that Thursday and it gets washed out also,” English said. “I mean everything was underwater and there was nothing we could do. So we had a case of the cabin fever the first two days because we were just sitting around in the hotel before we could even play. You worry about that because these kids are young and we had practiced and had built everything up to go down there and play and then we get rained out.”
English said the team bounced out in the first game and proved to be ready because they earned a win over Ocean Springs by a score of10-5.
“It affected everyone else too because they could not play,” English said. “But in our situation, we were playing in Mississippi against teams from Mississippi who could drive home after the rain and their games while we were stuck in the hotel. It was tough at times because the home field advantage was not ours. The kids responded well and I was proud of them. That goes back to what we were doing in the fall preaching to them about being tough. In these games, if you make the routine plays and are tough, you will probably win. We did a good job of focusing when the weather got bad because we could have felt sorry for ourselves.”
The Bulldogs played six games in two-and-a-half days and English said that is a lot of stress on an 8 or 9-year-old.
“We are talking about kids who can wear out,” English said. “You can look at them and see if they are done. One minute they are fine then another you can tell they have hit the wall. We played our best game in our last game of the tournament. We made the routine plays, we swung the bats and we put them away and it made the tournament a success for us because we won our last two games. We left on a good note, all pumped up.”
All in all, English said the kids bonded well.
“You cant say enough in these games when you have pitchers that can get on the mound and throw strikes and make the other people hit it and not walk people,” he said. “We got two good outings from Carson Walters. He is a left-handed pitcher for us and won the first game of the tournament going four innings against Ocean Springs then goes three or four more in the last game against the Renegades of Louisiana. So he got two wins in six games. He has come a long way and is a great teammate and a great kid. Whitley Lisenby goes out in our final pool play game and goes out in three innings and gets seven or eight strikeouts. We are trying to get Whitley to understand that he can do this every time he goes on the mound. When he knows he can do it, he has a rocket for an arm.”
English said the guys played their best tournaments of the year in Mississippi.
“Nolan Atkinson played his best six games together all year,” he said. He played great defense, he hit the ball, and closed the game on the mound. No one is tougher than Nolan Atkinson. You can win with guys like that. He gets better every time we play. We played 30 innings in the tournament and Miller Hart caught every inning but two for us. He is 8 and does not turn 9 until September so for him to catch that many innings is big. When you see him throw the ball around and block pitches, you know why he is back there for us. We went three games at one time without allowing a passed ball.”
Blake Jernigan, Kyle Blevins and Jackson Ray from Wetumpka all had great games for us as well, English said.
“They hammered the ball all weekend,” he said. “It looked like every time you looked up that Kyle Blevins was on base. When you get people on and Blake will drive them in. He might come up with no one on and strikeout, but if there is someone on, he will hit a double and get them in.”
While a lot of credit went to the players, English said help from the parents were also appreciated.
“Emmie Jernigan and Nancy Hart helped to go to Wal-Mart to get us fruit and Gatorades to take care of these kids,” he said. “You lean on these parents a lot and they help out. Mrs. Hart goes to Wal-Mart and then you have Emmie Jernigan making sure they drink the water because it is hot. You have to have that. Lisa Atkinson and Kim Flores are our team photographers and that is things you take for granted. Lisa also keeps the book. Denise Blevins, the head team mom, books hotels and makes sure they are all on the same floor and not spread out so we can be close together. They all are washing uniforms in the tub, soaking all the pants, then dry them. You can’t replace that and thank them enough. Carson Walters mom, Tasha, is right there also. They don’t have to do it. It is just a big part of what goes on.”
John Hart, Leroy Steele and Darrell Blevins all help English coach.
“They all work and still head to baseball practice for two hours,” he said. “They know we are trying to build something. We want to say thank you to everybody and all the people who help with money because it cost money to play in these tournaments. People also extended money to us for our equipment. They are not writing a check for nothing, they are writing a check to 8 and 9-year-old kids and you are providing for their future and may change their life because you are taking time with them. If it was not for the people in the community, we have nothing.”
Overall for the 2011-2012 season, the Bulldogs played 35 games.
English said those 35 games are more games than the kids would have not got to play without the travel ball opportunity.
“That is three more seasons in youth sports against top teams in another city and another town,” he said. “It is pretty easy to play against a friend of yours, but when you play against someone you don’t know, it puts you out of your comfort zone. These kids still go out there and play and that says a lot. Not only are they becoming better baseball players, but also they are growing socially and they understand the game and life and meet friends from other teams. They are buddies now and want to go watch a Blue Wahoo’s game, spend the night or just hang out. It is so much more than getting better at hitting a baseball, they are also improving in life also.”
The Bulldogs will start back in the fall and they will move up from 9AA to 10AA.