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INDEPENDENCE –– Unlike the other 14 teams that played their way into the Dixie Boys AAA and Majors state tournaments, Grayson County didn’t have to win a thing to get a spot in the field as the host team receives automatic berths. Be that as it may, it didn’t take long for both Grayson County teams to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that they belonged there.
Grayson’s AAA (ages 8-10) and Majors (11-12) teams made it through the first two rounds of competition a combined 4-0, with the AAA boys winning twice by an average margin of eight runs and the Majors powering their way to a pair of mercy-rule wins as the separate tournaments got under way Saturday and Sunday at the Grayson County Recreation Park before a combined paid attendance of close to 2,000.
Both host teams suffered their first losses Monday night but were still in the tournament Tuesday evening.
Playing the second game on opening day Saturday, Grayson County thumped Brunswick 11-0 in four innings. Grayson took command of the game by scoring six runs in the third inning, keyed by a William Vaughan home run. Micah Cornett had two hits for Grayson, while he and Vaughan worked two innings each on the mound.
Galax played the opening game of the tournament, falling to Rustburg 11-1 in four innings. Cody Spencer doubled and scored on Stu Merdian’s single as Galax took a 1-0 lead in the first, but Rustburg exploded for 11 runs in the third.
In other first-round action, Charlotte County defeated Blacksburg 10-3 and North Roanoke edged Powhatan 13-12.
Blacksburg eliminated Galax in the first game Sunday, rolling to a 20-0 win in four innings. Logan Smith had the lone hit for Galax. Powhatan ousted Brunswick 16-7 in the second game of the lower bracket.
Charlotte County pounded Rustburg 15-2 and Grayson County defeated North Roanoke 13-8 in the winners’ bracket games. Grayson scored seven runs in the top of the fourth to jump into the lead, 11-7, and held on for the win. Cornett and Will Lawrence had three hits each to pace Grayson, while Cody Leonard added two hits.
Grayson County was bumped to the bottom bracket with a 16-4 loss to Charlotte County on Monday. Details will appear in Friday’s edition.
Grayson County found state-level pitching much to its liking, slugging eight home runs in its first two games, including five in Sunday’s win. Grayson opened its state tournament Saturday with a 13-3 win over Amelia American, scoring six runs in the top of the first. Max Rodgers ripped an RBI triple and Tucker Phipps followed with a home run. Grayson Holdaway and Cole Davis each doubled in the big first inning.
Dylan Isom led off the second with a solo homer and Will Circle added a two-run shot in the fifth. Rodgers, Tucker Phipps, Brett Phipps and Holdaway had two hits each for Grayson County.
In other first-round action, Dinwiddie National blanked Halifax County 8-0, Brookneal got past South Hill 8-5 and Floyd County topped Patrick County 5-2 behind a 3-for-3 performance by Zach Atkins.
In Sunday’s second round, Halifax eliminated South Hill 6-4 and Amelia American scored three runs in the top of the sixth to oust Patrick County 12-11.
In the winner’s bracket, J.D. Baker’s solo home run in the bottom of the seventh lifted Dinwiddie past Brookneal 4-3, and Grayson County went ballistic in a 17-3 win over Floyd County. Davis had a three-run homer in the top of the second, and Grayson County had back-to-back homers twice in the game. Circle and Rodgers had consecutive homers in the third while Isom and Isaac Osborne did so in the fifth. Tucker Phipps capped the fireworks with a fifth-inning grand slam.
Despite its powerful start to the tournament, Grayson County couldn’t solve the pitching of Dinwiddie in Monday’s third round, falling 4-0. Details will appear in Friday’s edition.