West Georgia Dixie Junior Boys manager Mike Johnson's charges passed their first test at the Dixie Baseball Junior Boys (13s) World Series, pounding out eight hits in a 6-4 victory over Hilton Head, S.C., that saw the host team rally on two occasions before cruising to the victory.
"Overall, I felt like we were really relaxed," said Johnson, whose team now plays Center, Texas, in a winners bracket game tonight at 7. "This was a big game for this team and this city. I felt like our guys were relaxed before every at-bat and everybody went out there and did a job, which is what we coached them to do. All 11 players on our roster did a job at one point or another in this game."
South Carolina -- which takes on Enterprise, Ala., at 1 p.m. today in an elimination game -- got an unearned run in the top of the first inning, but West Georgia promptly responded in the bottom half. Brian Trepanier, West Georgia's starting pitcher, led off the inning by launching a Boyce Kobleur pitch over the left field fence for a solo homer to tie the game at 1.
"(Kobleur) had been throwing fastballs and getting a little wild," said Trepanier, who finished the game 2-for-2 with two walks, two stolen bases, his solo homer and two runs scored. "I figured he'd come back into the zone with one to get a strike, he left one up and I just drove it."
West Georgia looked like it would take the lead later in the inning but left the bases loaded. Stranded runners would be an ongoing issue for West Georgia throughout the game, as it left 10 runners on base for the contest, including leaving the bases loaded twice in the first four innings.
South Carolina took a 2-1 lead in the top of the third on a two-out RBI single by Michael Graupner, but again West Georgia came back in the bottom half. Kaleb Podger led off the frame with a walk, stole second, went to third on a wild pitch and scored on a sacrifice fly by Jordan Manibusan to tie the game at 2.
"I felt like we played well tonight," said Trepanier. "South Carolina was a hard team, but we kept battling and were finally able to come through."
After leaving the bases full in the fourth, West Georgia finally got the lead in the bottom of the fifth. Manibusan led off the inning with a triple to right field and he came home on a wild pitch to give the host team a 3-2 advantage it wouldn't relinquish.
West Georgia added two insurance runs in the bottom of the sixth to go up 6-2 and despite allowing two unearned runs in the top of the seventh, the hosts were able to hold on for the win.
Trepanier earned the win by going five-plus innings and allowing two runs (none earned) on three hits with seven strikeouts and three walks. Manibusan worked the last two frame to earn the save, giving up two unearned runs on no hits with three strikeouts and three walks.
Podger was 2-for-2 with a double, two stolen bases and two runs scored, Manibusan finished 2-for-3 with a triple, two runs scored and two RBI, and Devin Perez wound up 2-for-3 with a double and an RBI for West Georgia in the win.
Saturday at South Commons
Junior Dixie Boys World Series
West Georgia 6, South Carolina 4
WP--Brian Trepanier. LP--Michael Graupner. SV--Jordan Manibusan. Leading hitters--South Carolina: Michael Graupner 2-for-3, RBI; West Georgia: Brian Trepanier 2-for-2, solo HR, 2 runs, RBI, Kaleb Podger 2-for-2, 2B, 2 runs, RBI, Jordan Manibusan 2-for-3 3B, 2 runs, 2 RBI, Devin Perez 2-for-3, 2B, RBI. Next: South Carolina vs. Enterprise, Ala. (Elimination Game), 1 p.m. today, West Georgia vs. Center, Texas (Winner's Bracket), 7 p.m. today.