World Series champions return to Troy

Published 9:37 pm Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Members of the Troy Dixie AA World Series Region II championship team celebrate in Troy, Ala., Tuesday, July 24, 2012. (Messenger Staff Photo/Thomas Graning)

Troy’s Dixie AA team didn’t bathe in brightly-colored, aerosol string on Tuesday after winning the Region II World Series in Hartselle. It wasn’t necessary.

It started as a way for the team’s parents to add to the enjoyment of winning a district championship. Then, Troy played for and won a state championship – more string. The World Series, however, was different.

“The first two times I wasn’t expecting it,” head coach David Nelson said. “After we won the World Series, I was looking for it but it never came.”

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It never came because the moment was bigger than aerosol string… it was the World Series.

“The moment that we won it, two months worth of practice and hard work runs through your head,” Nelson said. “You’ve reached your goal and everything you’ve worked for is right there. It’s emotional.”

Troy defeated the South Carolina state champion Hilton Head 7-3 on Tuesday afternoon to claim the title, but it wasn’t without having to put up a fight.

Hilton Head beat Troy the day before,10-4, sending the tournament into three-way-tie proceedings that included West Seminole, Florida’s representative.

“There was a lot of hype about how good the Florida team was, so we made it out to be a really big game (on Monday). And it was,” Nelson said. “We won that game in eight innings. It was a long day. We had to come back and play Hilton Head, another good team. We just didn’t play well.”

Troy bounced back the next day and defeated West Seminole 13-3 to force a rematch with Hilton Head in the championship game.

Nelson said the coaches challenged the players to focus in on their goal for the final game.

Hilton Head jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first and kept the Troy offense quiet for the first three inning. But in the fourth, Troy broke loose.

With one out Skylar Kidd singled. Darryl Lee, who started the double play to hand Troy the state championship, doubled. Singles from Press Jefcoat, Laquavin Rodgers and Bailey Sparrow help Troy plate four runs.

The South Carolina champs chipped away with a run in the bottom half of the fourth. Troy, however, answered with three in the fifth.

Nate Braisted, Noah Prestwood and Brady Huner singled consecutively. Later, Kidd and Lee tacked on runs with singles of their own.

Hilton Head would get a run back in the sixth but Laquavian Rogers made three fine defensive plays to record the final trio of outs.

It was a contest the team had even labeled “The Game” in the scorebook.

“We challenged then to come back after that loss and play with the heart of a champion,” Nelson said. “South Carolina had heir backs against the wall too in that last game and came out fighting. I can’t say enough about how our kids responded.”

But no string. The team will carry memories and lessons much bigger that string.

“That was their first opportunity as baseball players to win something more that a district tournament,” Nelson said. “At the first opportunity, they go out and win a World Series. They showed that they learned how to battle through adversity and come together and encourage each other. They didn’t play perfect as a team but they sure worked towards getting better as a team and hopefully they can stay together and do some special things.”

Troy finishes the summer  with just three losses through three tournaments.

“They have a long time to play baseball and learn how to do the right things on the field,” Nelson said. “More importantly, they are learning the right things to do in life as well.”