WARNER ROBINS — In a win-and-in scenario, Georgia relied on pitcher Kody Winner to get the team to the semifinals, defeating Alabama 4-1 Monday.
Winner pitched a complete game ending with 90 pitches with eight strikeouts.
Leyton Pinckney, who had seven home runs coming into the Little League Baseball Southeastern Regional Tournament, ended his dry spell hitting a two-run long ball into center field to start the scoring for Georgia in the top of the third.
Georgia will play Wednesday on national television, but what its seed is depends on the results of the 4 p.m. Florida-North Carolina game. If Florida wins, Georgia will be the No. 1 seed and will play at 1 p.m. If North Carolina wins, Georgia will be the No. 2 seed and play at 6 p.m. The games will be televised on ESPN2.
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Both manager Martin Pinckney and Winner are hoping for a rain-out which will give the young pitcher an opportunity to pitch again in the championship should they advance.
“We’re doing a rain dance starting after this,” Martin Pinckney said.
Pinckney said he had planned on Winner pitching until the fifth inning. He said when the score was still 2-0, he asked Winner if he wanted to come off the mound for a chance to pitch later in the tournament.
“He said ‘Coach, I want to finish,’ ” Pinckney said.
Winner had two strikeouts in the sixth inning, getting Cal Burton to strikeout for Alabama’s last out.
Winner was humble about his win, giving most of the credit to his defense.
“Leyton Pinckney made some great plays on defense,” Winner said.
The shortstop turned a double-play, his second of the tournament, in the bottom of the first inning.
Ryan Lambert, the first-baseman for Alabama and the third batter in the line-up, was injured during the game.
Lambert was going after a foul ball and dove head-first, landing in the dugout.
Manager Al Starr said Lambert’s father was the first to reach him in the dugout. Lambert was taken to Houston Medical Center where he was listed as stable. After every inning, players would come into the dugout asking for word about their friend and fellow player.
“I told them before the game to do everything you can do,” Starr said. “He took it to the extreme.”
Alabama’s lone run came in the bottom of the fifth when Sam Freeman hit a solo home run.
Georgia added two runs in the top of the fifth after Pinckney was walked, Winner added a single to put Pinckney at third. Jackson Jones singled to score Pinckney. Jackson Will singled to score Winner from second.
Knowing Alabama had come back from an eight-run deficit to defeat North Carolina Saturday, Georgia’s manager admitted he was nervous about facing Alabama.
“We were very fortunate to come out victorious,” Pinckney said.