The Laurinburg Optimist 12 Year-Old All-Stars traveled to Siler City, N.C., on July 1, claiming the title of District 1 champs after winning four of five games during the weekend tournament.
The team began the tournament with a 12-6 loss to Northview on Friday, July 1st.
Laurinburg held the Northview All-Stars scoreless for two innings and took a 3-0 lead after Donta Green and Austin Clark hit back-to-back home runs in the first.
The momentum quickly shifted to Northview as they scored six runs in the third and six more in the fourth.
Laurinburg put three more on the board with singles from Seth Hatchell and Bryan Baines, but could not take back the lead in a game where they had too many errors and too little offense.
On Saturday, things turned around for the Laurinburg squad, as they played great defense and offense in two afternoon games.
The team first faced West Chatham in a noon game that went seven innings.
Laurinburg broke out in the top of the seventh, scoring 18 runs and winning 21 to 3.
Leading hitters for Laurinburg were Austin Taylor, Josh Outlaw and Harrison Hartwell. The trio each had a pair of singles and a home run, racking up 11 RBIs between them.
Hartwell plated Wells Graham and Cody Yarborough with a single before hitting a grand slam to pick up six total RBIs in the inning.
The win advanced Laurinburg, setting them up for a rematch with Northview.
In the late game against Northview, Laurinburg came out on top 7-4.
Justin Bowers got the win, pitching two innings with four strikeouts and no hits.
Green finished up with the save, striking out three in relief.
Josh Outlaw scored the first run with a solo homer in the second, but Laurinburg trailed 4-1 going into the fifth when the Laurinburg bats got hot.
Hartwell and Baines led off with singles, followed by a home run from Green. Clark kept things going with a solid base hit, allowing Outlaw to launch another home run that put Laurinburg up 5-4.
Justin Ray and Yarborough finished the inning with a pair of singles, adding another run. Baines made the score 7-4 in the sixth with a solo homer and Green finished off a Northview rally in the bottom of the inning by striking out Northview’s Will Taylor with the bases loaded.
The win advanced Laurinburg to the title game against Hamlet.
On Sunday, Laurinburg showed great teamwork in the 4:00 game against Hamlet with good defense and solid pitching as Clark, Justin Bowers and Green combined for nine strikeouts and only three hits over six innings. The game started with two scoreless innings, then Hamlet drew first blood with a home run from Justice Goodwin. Hamlet added another run on two more hits, putting them on top 2-0.
In the bottom of the third, a lead off hit from Laurinburg’s Ray, followed by a home run from Outlaw tied the game at 2-2. Holding Hamlet scoreless in the top of the fourth, Laurinburg put two more on the board in the bottom of the inning, taking the lead 4-2. Neither team scored in the fifth, but Hamlet knocked in two runs in the top of the sixth to tie the game. Green came in to pitch, striking out three consecutive batters, then led off for Laurinburg, crushing a walk-off home run to win the game 5-4 and set up a second game between the teams to determine the champion.
The final game proved to be too much for Hamlet, as Laurinburg again played solid defense behind great pitching and scored 12 runs.
Green pitched five innings with only one hit, posting nine strikeouts.
Austin Taylor hit a 3-RBI home run in the second to put Laurinburg on the board with a 3-1 lead. Laurinburg posted five more runs with a 2-run homer from Clark and a 3- RBI home run from Baines. McKenzie White led off in the bottom of the fifth with a single and Clark ended the game with a grand slam that put the Laurinburg All-Stars on top 12-1, clenching the championship and qualifying them for the state tournament which will be held in Laurinburg at Optimist Park beginning July 14th.
The team posted 15 home runs for the weekend including four by Outlaw and two grand slams by Hartwell and Clark. Outlaw, Clark and Green were named tournament MVPs.
The team will begin play in the State Tournament this Thursday night at 7:00.