West Robeson walks Lumberton majors in 8-inning DYWS thriller

West Robeson walks Lumberton majors in 8-inning DYWS thriller

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LUMBERTON — Before pitching, Monday’s majors game between Lumberton and West Robeson was the signature game of the 2022 Dixie Youth World Series, as two local teams battled for neighborhood bragging rights and a chance to stay in the playoffs.

But the game that unfolded — on Field 1 of the Dr. Raymond B. Pennington Athletic Complex in front of a crowd packed in all directions and with plenty of depth on every baseline — really suited this distinction.

After Lumberton scored a run in the bottom half of that frame to reach the eighth inning in the first game in any division, two solo home runs lifted West Robeson to a 5-4 victory.

West Robeson plays Alabama on Tuesday at 4:30 p.m. Lumberton was eliminated with Monday’s loss.

“It was great ball; they have a great team,” West Robeson coach Eric Freeman said. “There was a lot of heart here tonight — I saw more heart than I saw talent. That’s what sticks in my mind with this game. When you have a game like that, talent is off the table, and it’s a dogfight.” It was just.

“These two towns seem to never fail whenever they play together, if one is better than the other or tied, they always put on a good show,” Lumberton coach Jonathan Britt said.

Lumberton took a 4-3 lead into the eighth inning when Sam Smith scored on a wild pitch, but Lumberton left the bases loaded. Seth Brooks led off the bottom half with a home run.

“I got in the box and I was thinking about a base hit, then he threw it up the middle so I thought about going deep,” Brooks said. “I was a little nervous, I don’t want to lie, but I guess I was confident.”

Two batters later, Zane Hunt swung, and the first-base side — and the western half of Robeson County — erupted as the drive cleared the outfield fence to seal the win.

“I was a little nervous, but I know I’m confident. When Seth hit me, he encouraged me,” Hunt said. “When I got up there and it was 1-2, I was nervous. But I stayed focused and hit it.”

“(Lumberton was) one run; the guys come in on top of the world (after screening the runners),” Freeman said. “We were at the top of the lineup; I couldn’t have picked a better place to be in line in this situation. The men were simply killed. “The young guys on the field tonight who are running late in the game are the same guys who have helped us get through these tournaments.”

Lumberton scored all four runs in the game on wild pitches; Tristan Willoughby and Waylen Willoughby each scored in the third for a 2-0 lead, and Stephen Stone scored in the fifth to tie the game at 3-3.

“We had a lot of chances to come out in the game, though,” Britt said. “We didn’t take advantage of the opportunities we had, and we didn’t take advantage when we should have.”

West Robeson took a 3-2 lead in the fourth inning on Aiden Hammond’s double over the left-center field wall.

“We were down by three, I knew I had to do something,” Hammond said. “He threw it right there and I just hit him.”

“Aiden was a big part of leveling the playing field for us, getting us on the board,” Freeman said. “Then we held on for a while until those big guys in the final game.”

West Robeson, which expects to lose every game in the series, used both Joseden Oxendy and Dakota Locklear for multiple innings in Monday’s game. Kayden Hall and Jace Wilson had the biggest hits of the game for Lumberton.

“We used everything we had; we didn’t play for tomorrow,” Freeman said. “We didn’t play with pitches. We didn’t care about pitches. We looked at our pitchers and when their innings started going down, we knew they were tired. We’ll regroup in the morning and see what we have left. We still have pitching, how about defense?” It’s just how we want to set it up.

Lumberton was eliminated after a very respectable performance as host. It went into the night with a win over runner-up Alabama on Sunday and defending champion West Robeson of North Carolina.

“The result wasn’t what we wanted, but overall I and both my assistant coaches were satisfied with the way we played,” Britt said. “We’ve got a lot of kids here, we’ve got a couple older kids that we’re leaning on, but for the most part we’re pretty content.”

Chris Stiles can be reached at 910-816-1977 or by email. [email protected] You can follow him on Twitter at @StilesOnSports.

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