SAVANNAH, Ga. -- The Thomson Wildcats didn't win this year's Nations Baseball World Series, but they placed in the prestigious tournament, nevertheless.
The Wildcats, a local traveling baseball team, ended up finishing in third place.
Pitching turned out to hamper the Wildcats from their quest to win the championship. One of their starters got injured, while two other pitchers opted to play in another tournament -- thus reducing the size of the team down to eight. As a result, the Wildcats were forced to pick up a player from last year's team in order to field a team of nine players.
"If we'd had all our players, I think things would have turned out better for our team and would have had a chance to maybe win the championship," said Thomson Wildcats head coach Robert Brown during a telephone interview with The McDuffie Mirror .
The Wildcats ended up playing seven 12-year-old players and two 11-year-old players during the World Series.
"Our players had to play against some of the best players in the nation," explained coach Brown.
Team coaches put their heads together and tried to come up with a strategy concerning their pitching concerns.
"We tried to use some strategy by using our top pitchers for bracket games and using some kids that had limited pitching experience to pitch in pool games," said coach Brown.
As a result, the Wildcats suffered a couple of losses during pool play that they probably wouldn't have if their other pitchers had been able to play.
"We went in knowing we only had pitching for two or three games and we had to play seven games over a four-day period," added coach Brown.
Despite obstacles along the way, the Thomson Wildcats got good pitching performances from Morgan Hyde and Cody Brown.
"Both of them did a really good job for us," said coach Brown.
In pool play, the Wildcats won their first two games by scores of 10-8 and 9-2. They later were blanked 2-0 in the third game of pool action.
"The kids played awesome and with a never-say-die attitude were within two runs of being undefeated in bracket play and getting a chance to play for the World Series title," said coach Brown. "I think it was a huge accomplishment for these boys to go to the tournament short-handed and come home with third place."
Several of the games saw the Wildcats play in blistering hot weather with temperatures soaring to 102 degrees. The playing surface was even hotter.
The Wildcats, meanwhile, had to endure those kinds of conditions without any substitute players.
"These kids really gave us a super effort," said coach Brown.
The leading hitters for the Thomson Wildcats during the tournament included:
Cade Brown, 7-for-16 - .438 avg.;
Cody Brown, 6-for-15 - .400 avg.; and
Brian Smith, 6-for-19 - .316 avg.
Kyle Edwards also belted a walk-off two-run homer that won one of the games in the tournament for the Wildcats.
The Wildcats finish the season with an impressive record of 32-10.
They won eight of the 11 tournaments they played during the summer.