Bartow Blue came within one win of reaching the championship game of the 8-and-under Dizzy Dean World Series Sunday in Southaven, Miss. Blue earned a run-rule victory against the Pontotoc (Miss.) Power before losing to the Greenwood (Miss.) Sparks to place third in the tournament.
"It was a heartbreaker," Bartow County Recreation Department Assistant Director Brenton Baggett said. "They had a really good year, [they] made a good run," he added of Blue.
Bartow scored five runs against the Sparks in the top of the first inning, but Greenwood scored seven unanswered runs to take a two-run lead into the fourth.
A second lead change ensued in the top of the fourth as Blue swung back in front with three runs, giving it an 8-7 lead. The Sparks tied things up in the bottom of the fourth and then added a few more runs in the fifth for a 12-8 advantage.
Rachel Lee and Macey Vaughn singled to lead off the sixth, giving Bartow runners on second and third base, and Hailie Owens delivered with an RBI hit to trim the Greenwood lead to three runs.
With runners in scoring position once again, Sadye Johnson pulled her team within one run with a two-run single, which scored Vaughn and Owens. The Sparks, however, surrendered one more hit before getting a game-ending double play.
Chloe Souders led Blue with a 3-for-4 effort, which featured two doubles and four RBIs. Lee, Vaughn and Owens each finished 2 for 4, and Lehla Thomas went 2 for 3.
In Sunday's opening game, a 16-5 victory, Bartow led 8-0 after scoring four runs each in the top of the first and second innings. Pontotoc lit up the scoreboard for its first run in the bottom of the second, but Blue kept pouring in the runs, with three more crossing the plate in the third for an 11-1 lead.
Four runs from the Power made it 11-5, but Bartow ended the game by scoring five runs in the fourth and then shutting out Pontotoc to pick up the run-rule win.
Souders' four hits in four at-bats -- including three doubles -- led Blue, as did her four RBIs. Emmalee Cigainero and Lee both went 3 for 4, with Cigainero adding two RBIs. Thomas also had two RBIs, and one triple, in her 2-for-3 day, and Johnson was a perfect 3 for 3 with a double.