Moultrie-Colquitt County swept the Georgia Recreation and Parks Association State Championship series last week, winning in both the Midget and Junior League categories.
After a full week of tournament play at Sweetwater Park south of Thomson, everything came down to two rival teams, Vidalia vs. Moultrie-Colquitt County, in both the Midget (12 years and under) and Junior (13-14 years old) Leagues.
In the Midget league, Vidalia faced Moultrie-Colquitt County for a one-game playoff. In the Junior League, the Vidalia team needed to either win one game and win it all, or, if Moultrie-Colquitt County won the first game and forced a second game, to win that one. In neither instance, though, was it going to end up being Vidalia's day.
In Midget League action, Vidalia entered the top of the sixth up 4-3 after a two-run double by Todd Lanier gave Vidalia the lead. But after pitching a gem of a game, and with two outs in the bottom of the sixth, Griffin Gillis left a curve ball hanging just a second too long, and Austin Craven knocked a three-run homer out of the park to give Moultrie-Colquitt County the walk-off victory and the state championship.
"We felt like we just had to come in here and get the job done," said Moultrie-Colquitt County head coach Joey Brinson. "But I tell you what, this was a close game, a real close game. Austin Craven's been hitting real well, getting base hits and other hits when we needed them, but he hadn't hit a home run before today. He came in and hit one when we needed it to win this one, though."
"The Moultrie-Colquitt County team is a great team," said Vidalia head coach Arty Allmond after the game. "We knew we had to come in here with our A game, and we had a chance, and that's all you can ask for. Our kids played their hearts out. That kid (Craven) has been swinging the bat great all day, and we just left a curve ball hanging up there, and he took advantage of it. You have to tip your hat to them, they played a great game. But Griffin Gillis has been the heart and inspiration of our team all year, and he pitched a great game today. He pitched his heart out up there today."
In Junior League action, Vidalia needed to win just one of two games against Moultrie-Colquitt County to claim the championship. But Moultrie-Colquitt County proved too much for Vidalia in the opening game, forcing the series into a second and final game to determine the championship.
"We're coming from the losers' bracket, so we have to beat Vidalia twice," said Moultrie-Colquitt County's head coach Bill Frazier. "We got ahead early in this game and then Cole Bryant came in and shut them down for five innings and we were able to get the win. But we've got some more pitching to do in this second game."
In addition to pitching, though, it was Moultrie-Colquitt County's bats that won the second game and the championship. Getting ahead early to a 3-0 lead and never looking back, Moultrie-Colquitt County dominated the Vidalia pitching to win the game with a final score of 9-1.
"We went into the losers' bracket the second day of the tournament, but we have a lot of guys who've had a shot three or four times to go to the state championship, and they finally all got here today," Frazier said after his team's championship victory. "Our hitting came through, and our pitching came through, and now, we're going to go celebrate."