BY ANDREW O'BRIEN | SPORTS EDITOR
Finishing second in the state is a commendable accomplishment, but the players and coaches of the Ormond Beach Babe Ruth All-Stars 10U team aren’t satisfied. There is still plenty of work to do.
Ormond Beach finished second at the Babe Ruth state tournament over the weekend, losing in the championship to Okeeheelee (West Palm).
Ormond Beach won its first game over Manatee County, 5-3. The team then topped Okeeheelee in its second game, 3-2, in what coach Tommy Johnson called the best game of the season.
In the team’s third game, Ormond Beach trailed Fish Hawk, 7-0, after three innings. Ormond clawed back to tie the game at 7-7. Fish Hawk responded to take an 11-8 lead going into the bottom of the sixth inning, but Ormond won in walk-off fashion, 12-11.
Because Ormond was undefeated heading into the championship, Okeeheelee had to beat them twice in the finals. They did.
“Our gloves fell apart,” Johnson said. “We made 11 errors in the final game.”
After taking second in the state, Ormond Beach advances to the regional tournament, which will be held July 25-28, in Charleston, S.C.
There, 20 teams from the Southeastern United States will compete in the double-elimination tournament for a spot in the Babe Ruth World Series.
Johnson said his team had exceptional pitching and defense during the first three games, but those things fell apart in the final two matchups.
“These guys play with so much heart,” he said. “They never quit, and they finished second in the state of Florida. That’s saying something.”
The team is still trying to raise enough funds to make it to the regional tournament. The plan, Johnson said, is to leave for South Carolina on July 24.
Anyone interested in making a donation can contact C.J. Mahlstedt, at 295-4612.
“Any donation at all would be appreciated,” Johnson said.
The Ormond Beach 10U All-Stars baseball team is the second Babe Ruth team from Ormond Beach to qualify for regionals — the 12U softball team qualified after finishing second in the state earlier this month.
And if the baseball team’s play during the first three games at the state tournament are any indication, they have the skills to advance to the World Series.