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Mecklenburg Majors playing for title
SoVaNow.com / July 16, 2014The Mecklenburg County Dixie Majors will be playing the state championship tonight at Comet Field in Halifax County.
Mecklenburg battled to a 10-9 win over previously unbeaten Goochland Tuesday and then won the coin toss among the three remaining teams to earn a bye into tonight's championship game.
Mecklenburg will play the winner of the Cumberland-Goochland played last night.
Cumberland eliminated South Boston with two straight wins over the host team. Mecklenburg is one win away from a World Series trip.
Mecklenburg scampered to an early 3-1 lead Tuesday, but that did not hold up. Goochland later forged a 3-all tie on a Mecklenburg error in the fourth inning.
Mecklenburg pitcher Charlie Mills battled through, helped by some solid defense on the final out of the inning by Vince Cliborne. Mills later delivered an RBI groundout to lift Mecklenburg back to a 4-3 lead in their half of the fourth inning.
Mills ran into trouble in the fifth, loading the bases. He issued a walk, which forced a 4-all tie. Ford Slater followed with a two-run double in the gap for Goochland, and Mason Carneal plated Slater from second. All of a sudden, Goochland extended its lead to 7-4.
Shortly thereafter, lightning forced a break for both teams. Mecklenburg came out of the break with renewed intensity, determined to forge a comeback.
The game resumed in the bottom of the fifth, and Mecklenburg started creating trouble for Goochland. Cliborne delivered a key double, and Joey Jones put down an excellent running bunt, getting a run home. Matthew Hobgood walked to load the bases. Brett Cliborne drew a walk, getting a run home. Josh Balducci followed with a quality sacrifice bunt to tie the game at 7-all.
Tyler Garrett sent a tricky liner past second, and Goochland had some outfield fielding issues. Two runs scored, and Mecklenburg led, 9-7. K. Hilliard blasted a double to deep center, and Mecklenburg extended the lead to 10-7.
That extra base hit would prove to be one of the critical moments of the night, the eventual game-winning blast.
After a six-run, two-hit, three-error misadventure for Goochland, Mecklenburg held a lead it would not surrender. Goochland later cut into the Mecklenburg lead with two runs in its half of the sixth, trailing 10-9. But B. Cliborne did enough in a relief stint to hold off Goochland, which had two runs off one hit in the inning. But Goochland also left the bases loaded.
Goochland got the potential tying run on with two outs in its half of the seventh on a single, but Cliborne got the final out.
Mecklenburg head coach Todd Seate paid tribute to this relentless Mecklenburg team. “It won’t pretty, but it worked,” Seate said.
“Mecklenburg rallied again, just when it looked like this team might be eliminated. We’ve played that way the whole tournament. We’ll get ahead and then we’ll make some costly errors. Then, we’ll have to fight back again. I hope they keep on being resilient one more game,” he said.
In earlier action, Mecklenburg slipped past Amelia, 8-7, to stay alive in the state tournament.
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