CEREDO-KENOVA, W.Va. — At just past noon Sunday, with the West Virginia sun beating down on the green, plastic seats at Mitch Stadium, a Little League dad sat in the front row rattling a plastic water bottle with a dozen pennies in it.
“Twelve pennies, 12 players,” Jimmy Phillips said after his son, Hunter, rapped a second-inning double to center field for the Warner Robins American all-stars. “But I don’t believe in luck.”
And, hey, who needs it when your son’s squad of Georgia state champs is hotter than the heat index, which topped out at 102 degrees during Warner Robins’ 12-2, no-hit blistering of Florida?
So what if they scored the 12 runs on 12 hits in the team’s 12th game.
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Aside from their customary pregame peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches, lucky charms appear to be the last thing the diamond dozen from the Peach State needs these days.
At 2-0 after two games of pool play, Warner Robins look like the class of the eight-team Little League Southeast Regional. Warner Robins plays Alabama at 4 p.m. today in the final game of pool play. After today, the top two teams in each of the four-team pools advance to the single-elimination semifinals Wednesday.
“One thing we were concerned about the past week (at the state tournament) was that we weren’t hitting consistently throughout the order,” Warner Robins manager Randy Jones said Sunday of his team that, so far this all-star season, has outscored its opponents 150-18. “People laughed at us, but we were very serious about that, and we’ve worked hard on that, and we’ve about got it fixed.”
Warner Robins has 28 hits in just eight innings at the regional. Both of its games here have been shortened to four innings because of the 10-run mercy rule.
Warner Robins first baseman and reliever Cortez Broughton, one of five hurlers who combined for Sunday’s no-hitter, was 3-for-4 at the plate for the second day in a row.
After busting two doubles and driving in two runs Sunday, Broughton said the atmosphere at Mitch Stadium, where 607 spectators were looking on, takes some getting used to. But not much.
“First you feel kind of nervous,” he said. “Then when you get in there to hit and see what they’re throwing, and they throw it right (over the plate), you just swing.”
A day after the 11- and 12-year-old Georgians swung for the fences and cranked eight homers in a 17-0 shelling of North Carolina, they had just two home runs against Florida. Ten of the club’s players have homered in the first two days of the tournament.
Shortstop and starting pitcher Blake Jackson had a fourth-inning blast over the wall in right-center.
“He threw me a curveball that was outside, and I just stayed back, and I waited on it. I hit it to the other side of the field,” Jackson said. “It just rose and went out.”
Jackson, who went 2-for-3, also doubled in Warner Robins’ two-run first and scored three runs on the day.
Warner Robins leadoff man Justin Jones had a three-run homer to left in his squad’s eight-run second.
Conner Smith, who had a pair of homers Saturday, added two doubles and drove in two.