SWEETWATER — With three teams left in the Dixie Youth O-Zone state tournament, it’s still not known which is the better team from Lebanon Youth Baseball.
All that is known is Americans coach Scott Sorce can beat Nationals counterpart Kevin Gaines in a coin toss.
The Lebanon Americans scored three times in the bottom of the fifth inning to oust Coopertown 9-7 before Sorce won the coin toss with Gaines to gain a bye into the championship game.
Gaines’ Nationals team held off a sixth-inning Savannah rally to deal that team its first loss 7-6.
That left three teams with one loss each in the double-elimination tournament. By rule, a team which has played more games gets a bye into the final. But the two LYB teams fell into the loser’s bracket in the first round and have matched each other in parallel brackets since, hence, the coin flip. Savannah, by virtue of playing in the winner’s bracket until now, had played fewer games and was automatically dropped into Wednesday’s 9 a.m. CDT contest against the Nationals.
The Americans will await the Savannah-Nationals rematch winner immediately following.
Last year, Summertown beat both LYB teams in this round for the championship.
Savannah, which knocked the Americans into the loser’s bracket with a first-round 10-4 win last Thursday, used a three-run homer in the top of the sixth to slice a four-run deficit to one. But the Nationals’ Chase Birdwell completed his three-inning stint by recording the final out.
Starter Kolby Gaines pitched the first three innings and left with a 3-0 lead which the Nationals never relinquished to pick up the win.
Savannah outhit the Nationals 10-5, including three home runs, but stranded 10 runners.
Birdwell’s first-inning sacrifice fly staked Lebanon to a 1-0 lead. The Nationals put up two-spots in the second, fourth and fifth innings. Ryan Jackson had two of the Nats’ singles while Gaines, Braxton Swann and Bryce Miller each had the others.
Meanwhile, the Americans needed three runs in the bottom of the fifth to stave off elimination. Braden Reece homered in the inning.
Jeremiah Hastings, the fourth of five pitchers, worked two innings for the win. Reece pitched the top of the sixth for the save.
Lebanon jumped to a 4-0 lead in the first inning. Coopertown roared back with six in the second before the Americans tied the contest 6-6 with two in the third. Coopertown edged back in front with a run in the fourth.
Coopertown edged Lebanon in hits 10-9.
In addition to the homer by Reece, who had two RBI, Luke Bradshaw and Brady Chappell also hit home runs. Bradshaw, Hastings and Chappell each drove in two runs. Bradshaw banged out two hits and Corey Jones, Carson Boles, Spencer Sorce, Hastings and Chappell one apiece.