LAURINBURG — Laurinburg’s Optimist Park welcomed baseball clubs from across the southeast Wednesday for the first round of pool play in the 2015 Babe Ruth Southeast Regional Tournament.
The tourney hosted 16 teams — eight from the Rookies American bracket, and eight from the Nationals bracket.
Laurinburg’s Optimist 8U All-Stars opened pool play with a 12-2 victory over Tenneesse’s Newbern, and they will take the diamond for two more contests today.
Laurinburg was slotted in the Western Division in the American bracket after falling in the North Carolina state tournament semifinals to West Raleigh earlier this summer.
Once pool play wraps up the afternoon, the top two teams from the Northern, Southern, Eastern and Western Division will advance to the regional quarterfinals, which is set to begin Friday. The American and National bracket winner will meet in the championship game at noon Saturday.
Mara, from Matthews, also jumped out to a 1-0 start in the Western Division, handling Florida”s Okeeheelee 6-1. Okeeheelee rebounded to win the second game of the double-header, drubbing Newbern 14-1 to remain in contention for a top two seed.
Laurinburg plays a pivotal two-game set today, opening against Mara at 10:30 a.m. then completing this afternoon’s action against Okeeheelee at 4:30 p.m.
In Eastern Division action, Southern Pitt and South Lakeland (Fla.) sit atop of the standings. Southern Pitt rolled to a 11-1 win over Tenneesse’s state champion, Giles County, and South Lakeland cruised to a 17-3 victory over Stafford (Va.). The Virginia-based program sits at .500 after splitting its first two games, rebounding to defeat Giles County 14-3.
In the National bracket, North Carolina state champion West Raleigh tops the Northern Division after scoring a pair of blowout victories. West Raleigh beat New Kent (Va.) 19-3 and Huntingdon (Tenn.) 12-2 to close in on a quarterfinal berth.
Northwest St. Petersburg (Fla.) stands alone at the top of the Southern Division after scoring double-digit runs in their two wins. St. Pete rolled to a 11-4 win over Deep River (N.C.) in the first contest, then bested Bellevue (Tenn.) 14-2 in final game of the afternoon.
Logan Martinez can be reached at 910-506-3170. Follow him on Twitter @L_Martinez13.