The Fairhope Ozone All-Stars won the 2017 Dixie Youth World Series at Oxford with a 7-3 title-game victory over defending champion South Carolina
OXFORD, Ala. - The Fairhope Ozone All-Stars won the 2017 Dixie Youth World Series at Oxford with a 7-3 title-game victory over the defending champions: South Carolina’s team out of Clinton.
Representing the state of Alabama and Baldwin County, the Fairhope American League club outscored their World Series opponents 58-7 including two shutouts en route to the title. South Carolina came closest to spoiling the sweep in round three.
Alabama manager Andy Malone’s previous Fairhope teams had won three state championships before this one as 8-year-olds, 10-year-olds and 12s including taking the World Series runner-up award twice. That experience along with hard work helped lead to the DYB WS championship trophy and banner this year.
“This group of kids has been together and playing as a team for several years now,” Malone said. “This was the fourth time we’ve made it to the World Series and it’s like it finally paid off for us. All that experience came through. But I think we feel like we worked a little harder and stayed more focused a little better everyday and every step of the way this year. And that makes it work.
“Having been through it before and coming up just short before, that was really pretty good motivation for us to keep focused on the goal. Everybody stepped up and did their part when we needed them to. The players, the coaches and the parents.”
Malone said South Carolina never gave up and forced the best from his club.
“They had a really good team. We knew we were gonna have to play a team like that. We knew we would have to beat somebody like that along the way and we prepared for it. I’m just so proud of these guys for fighting through to the finish.
“I’ve been telling our team the whole time, win or lose we want to be able to say we did all we could do. This year we could not have worked any harder.”
Clinton’s team was bidding to bring the title to South Carolina for the second year in a row.
Fairhope went 5-0 in the tournament
Fairhope had leads of 2-0 and 3-2 in the title game, but the South Carolina champions pulled even twice before the Baldwin players broke away for good with a four-run sixth.
A Chad Morris single gave them their final lead. Brooks Brasfield’s fielder’s choice added an insurance run and finished with three RBIs after he drove in a run in each of his three at-bats.
Tournament batting champion Steele Sims capped the offensive surge with a two-run double. Sims hit two of Fairhope’s five homers in the Arkansas game, went 2-for-3 in the championship game and hit .692 for the tournament (9-for-13).
“He was our hottest hitter,” Malone said. “He pounded the baseball for us.”
Gatlin Pitts also had a homer and started the winning rally with a leadoff double. Josh Gunther pitched to the final out for the win. He gave up seven hits and struck out five.
Team Alabama now advances to a champion-of-champions tournament in Branson, Missouri. The Fairhope-based club will compete in the third Annual Youth Baseball Network National Championship.
The 12U Champions headed to the Show Me State represent the following baseball organizations: American Amateur Baseball Congress (AABC); Amateur Athletic Union of the United States (AAU); Continental Amateur Baseball Association (CABA); Dixie Youth Baseball (DYB); Dizzy Dean Baseball (DDB); National Amateur Baseball Federation (NABF); and the Jacoby Ellsbury Indigenous Champions. In addition, a host team will feature players from Greater Missouri.
The YBN National Championship will be played August 16-19 at the new, state-of-the-art youth baseball complex, Ballparks of America. Ballparks of America features five MLB replica fields, plus luxurious team suites, which will be home to the Champions for their week in Branson.
See more on the YBN National Championship website: Youthbaseballnetwork.com.
2017 World Series Ozone Champions Roster:
Josh Gunther - No. 3
Mikael Bryant - No. 23
John Malone - No. 15
Riley Malone - No. 35
Gatlin Pitts- No. 22
Steele Sims - No. 5
Cade Morris - No. 2
Caden Creel - No. 1
Hollon Brock - No. 10
Brooks Brasfield - No. 32
Cory DeVole - No. 27
Jackson Hatcher - No. 16
Team Manager Andy Malone and assistant coaches Mike Pitts and Ryan Creel
ROAD TO THE WORLD SERIES CROWN
Alabama 16- Florida 0
Alabama 11- Virginia 0
Alabama 3- South Carolina 2
Alabama 21- Arkansas 2
Alabama 7- South Carolina 3