The Little Leaguers from Warner Robins found their bats today as they clubbed their way past West Virginia 14-3 at the Southern Regional tournament and kept their Williamsport dreams alive.
Warner Robins will face Alabama Wednesday at 5 p.m. in the semifinals. Florida defeated Tennessee 10-2 in the early evening game to lock up the top seed in the pool, and will play South Carolina Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. The winners of the semifinals will play in the championship Friday at 8 p.m. on ESPN.
In Warner Robins' game against West Virginia this afternoon, West Virginia broke on top in the first when its second batter of the game bopped a two-run homer to center.
Warner Robins answered in the second. Pitcher Cody Carter walked, took second on a wild pitch and scored when catcher Griffen Martin poked a liner to right.
With two out, right fielder Brandon Cauley was hit by a pitch. Third baseman Jake Chastain then muscled a single to right-center to score Martin and tie it 2-2. Cauley then raced home on a wild pitch to second baseman Justin Jones to give Robins a 3-2 lead.
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But West Virginia bounced back to tie it in the bottom of the second on a solo homer that banged off the scoreboard in right to make it 3-3.
Then in the third, Payton Purvis’ bat woke up and rattled the tombstones in the cemetery next door. After center fielder Hunt Smith slashed a leadoff double down the line in right, Carter reached on a fielder’s choice and left fielder A.J. Priaulx walked to load the bases.
Purvis, an eighth-grader at Bonaire Middle school who turned 13 in May, had struck out five times in a row at the Little League Southeast Regional tourney.
"I was tired of striking out," Purvis said. "My first at bat I struck out and I kind of got mad."
Purvis took the first pitch low. He swung and missed the second. After two more balls, on a 3-1 count, he torpedoed a homer into the cemetery - a good 260 feet away - beyond the left-field wall at Arnold S. White Sr. Stadium.
"He threw me a high fastball and I creamed it," Purvis said.
Robins center fielder Smith said, "It went into space."
Robins added another run in the fourth. Jackson yanked a single to left and trotted home when Carter blistered a double to left.
Warner Robins made it 14-3 in the sixth. Jones slugged a lead-off homer to left-center and four batters Priaulx snatched a three-run jolt over the wall in right. Martin then singled and trotted home on Purvis’ second homer of the day, a low-line-drive jolt to left.
"Today they served one or two up to him and he showed them that he could pop them," Robins coach Tom Nauss said of Purvis' six RBI performance. "I think he's ready to play and lead us like we need to be led."