It was Alabama vs. Auburn in Dixie Youth AAA (9-10) baseball, but it might as well have been the Iron Bowl.
With bases loaded and no outs in the bottom of the seventh, Alabama All-Star Taytom Barnes took the first pitch he saw into right field to score Chase Smartt and give the Troy American squad a pass into today’s championship final, 4-3.
Alabama will play the Midland/Savannah winner at 5:30 p.m. today on Field 9.
“After they beat us, we wanted a second crack at them,” Alabama head coach David Dickey said of Auburn beating his team in the second round of the tournament. “This time we gave them a better game.”
The loss Friday night eliminated Auburn War Eagle from the 50th Dixie Youth World Series, but not without a fight.
The host All-Star squad trailed Alabama 3-0 in the top of the sixth inning, but came alive with three doubles to score three runs, sending the game into extra frames.
David Ruffin led off the rally, reaching on an error with one out. Carson Meadows ripped a double into left field to put runners on second and third. Blain Crain then followed with a two-bagger into left center to plate Ruffin and Meadows, cutting Alabama’s lead to one.
After a flyout, Austin Williams kept the inning alive with another double to left center, scoring Crain and tying the game at 3.
Troy starter Kyle Daugherty, who pitched all seven innings, got out of the jam and put his team into extra innings for the second time in three games.
Auburn continued to force the issue, loading the bases in the top of the seventh with one out. But Daugherty enticed a groundout to get the force at home and then a flyout to end the inning unharmed.
“I told Kyle if he could get us through the top of the seventh, we’d win the game for him,” Dickey said.
And they did.
Smartt led off the seventh with a single to left. Robert Benton followed with a base hit and Auburn intentionally walked Brantley LeCroy to load the bases with no outs.
That set up Barnes’ heroics.
Both Daugherty and Auburn starter Meadows showed tremendous courage also.
Daugherty, who coming into the World Series pitched just two innings during postseason play, battled fatigue and a blister on his right thumb to strike out five on the way to the win.
Meadows, who was just as tired, battled brilliantly, throwing all but one pitch in the game. The Auburn lefty finished with five strikeouts and gave up just three hits.
“Those kids never gave up,” Auburn head coach Scott Johnston said. “Not once. They didn’t play as well today on defense as we did the first two games this week.
“And when you give quality teams – like Troy – extra outs, it’s going to come back and bite you.
“But I am so proud of these kids for what they’ve accomplished. They were down in every game they played and battle back. The never quit.”
Alabama took a huge 3-0 lead in the bottom of the third when a ball hit by Barnes with bases loaded was misplayed in the outfield, allowing three runs to score.
Tennessee (Savannah) 6, Auburn 5
Friday was a tough day for the Auburn AAA All-Stars, as they started out losing to Tennessee 6-5 in six innings.
Auburn battled back from a 4-2 deficit to tie the game in the fourth before taking the lead, 5-4, in the top of the sixth. But Tennessee came back in its half of the final inning to score a run on an infield hit and beat Auburn for the first time in the tournament.
Blain Crain led War Eagle with a 2-for-2 performance, while Matthew Evans and David Ruffin each went 1-for-3 with an RBI.
For Tennessee, David Gobbell was 2-for-2 in the win.
Dillon Rooker earned the win for the Savannah All-Star squad, pitching a complete game.