End of the line: Junior Dixie Boys lack offensive punch in loss to Fairhope in state tournament finale

Published 6:51 pm Tuesday, July 17, 2018

The Troy Junior Dixie Boys rode into the state finals on Tuesday with an undefeated record. But the championship slipped through Troy’s hands as they fell to Fairhope in two straight games 14-2 and 7-4.

The Troy Junior Dixie Boys started their summer later than their fellow Troy teams this year. After the long layover, head coach Billy Jefcoat was pleased with what he saw out of his players.

“These kids worked their tail off all summer for one tournament,” Jefcoat said. “We didn’t have a district play-in, so we were automatically in the state tournament. They put forth a lot of practice and they gave up their summer. My hats off to these kids. I am really proud of them. They got better and I promise you they are better baseball players.”

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On Tuesday, Troy was matched up against a formidable Fairhope squad with a history of success.

“This age group of kids will probably go down as the greatest Dixie All-Star team to have ever played,” Jefcoat said. “They won the state tournament now five times. They are the defending Ozone World Series champions and they have two World Series Runner-ups. This age group of Fairhope kids is very successful and they are extremely talented. We went toe-to-toe with them; they just had some really good pitching.”

Heading into Tuesday knowing they had to lose twice to be knocked out, Troy’s focus and thoughts circled around the possibility of there being a game two.

“We had two very emotional games with Enterprise,” Jefcoat said. “We were going to go out there and play them (Fairhope) in game one, but I was trying to strategically come up with a way to win game two.”

Andrew Galloway started game two for Troy and pitched well enough to give Troy a championship.

“He did a really fine job for us keeping them off balance in game two,” Jefcoat said. “He had a couple of errors behind him and that was the difference in the game.”

Troy had an opportunity to score runs throughout the game, but every rally seemed to fall just short.

“They kept us off balance with their pitching,” Jefcoat said. “These guys are experienced and they are really fine baseball players and pitchers. We just couldn’t get runners on with less than two outs. In the later innings, it started to happen for us, but then they would get a key pop-up or a strikeout that would shut down our run.”

Jefcoat and the coaching staff has preached all summer about the importance of moving on to the next play. With the summer now finished for the squad, Troy’s success can be credited to that philosophy.

“We have no control of what just happened, but we have control of what happens next,” Jefcoat said. “As we grew as a team during practice, we started seeing that. The errors started to come down and the mistakes started to come down. That is really when we started to think that we have a pretty good ball club.”