Auburn Majors stays alive on Norman's RBI double
August 12, 2005
Tom Peavy / Staff Writer
|Photo by Vasha Hunt; Opelika-Auburn News|
Auburn Majors (11-12-year-olds) All-Star Jackson Norman said he wanted the bat in his hands in the clutch.
When he got his chance, he delivered a double to score Neely Boston in the bottom of the sixth. The hit gave Auburn a thrilling 7-6 walk-off victory over North Carolina (Louisburg) in a game that will go down as one of the classic matchups of the 50th Dixie Youth World Series.
“It feels real good,” Norman said amidst a wild postgame celebration. “I wanted to win that one bad and I wanted to be at the plate.”
After watching a 6-1 lead vanish, Auburn headed to the bottom of the sixth looking to break a 6-6 tie.
With one out, Boston laid down a perfect bunt and reached base when the throw sailed wide.
That brought Norman to the plate.
Facing North Carolina’s Eric Gupton, a pitcher Auburn had struggled to make solid contact on, Norman belted a shot into the gap in left center field.
Boston raced around second and third-base coach Benji Roland was sending him home all the way.
As the relay came from the outfield, the ball was mishandled on the infield and Boston slid into home for the win, setting off a massive celebration on the field, and outside the fence with the hundreds of Auburn fans in attendance.
“Those guys are a group of hard-fighting soldiers,” Auburn coach Steve Boston said, referring to the spiritual song made popular during Auburn University’s 13-0 football season. “They never quit. They always rely on God’s power and never give up.”
North Carolina jumped ahead 1-0 in the top of the first, but Auburn responded with four runs of its own, helped out by a three-run triple by Norman.
Auburn tacked on two more runs in the fourth, but that’s when things began to go downhill.
In the top of the fifth, North Carolina loaded the bases with no outs and Dillon Joyner cranked a grand slam to make the score 6-5.
North Carolina again loaded the bases with no outs but Norman, on the mound, got two quick outs to bring Sport Williams to the plate.
Williams motioned for the North Carolina crowd to make noise and Norman responded by stepping off the mound and signaling the Auburn fans.
Williams fouled off two pitches before ripping a single to left field. The tying run scored, but before the go-ahead run could cross the plate, he collided with Auburn catcher Mitchell Roland.
Umpires declared the seventh run nullified and ended the inning. However, North Carolina coach Bill Bolton protested the play, but was ejected for arguing before the protest could take place.
The game was delayed for more than 20 minutes as game officials and umpires discussed the call. Ultimately, the umpires decided to keep the score tied at 6.
Auburn failed to score in the fifth and Boston held North Carolina in check in the top of the sixth to set up the dramatic finale.
Norman went 2-for-3 to pace Auburn at the plate while Joyner went 3-for-4 for North Carolina.
Auburn will play Florida (Callaway) today at 10 a.m. With a win Auburn would play again at 6 p.m.