Last Thursday, Woodbridge Little League, now representing the Commonwealth as Team Virginia, flew to Ft. Lauderdale with their heads in the clouds. Why not; all the baseball from this point on was icing on the cake. The Big League Southeastern Regional offered a chance for fun in the sun, good competitive baseball at the beautiful Floyd Hull Stadium complex with flowing bermuda grass, and perhaps one last chance to just enjoy the beauty and simplicity of playing the game with buddies before the rigors of school ball start up in the fall. With the winner of the Southeast Regional headed to the Big League World Series on ESPN, Team Virginia was presented with a unique opportunity.
The format of tournament was simple: the top two teams from each four-team pool would advance to the semifinals, and finally the championship. The Flatlanders advanced to the semis, just two games away from being seen on national television. The District 9 champs finally lost 4-3 to South Carolina, the eventual tournament champions. The loss ended a great tournament run by Woodbridge, who had a combined record of 9-3 in states and regionals.
Woodbridge went 2-1 in pool play, and their only pool loss (Florida) came after leading 1-0 until the fourth inning. Kyle Toomey (Woodbridge, U. of Penn) hit a solo home run, Woodbridge's only tally of the game. The District 9 champs went on to beat West Virginia 6-4 in their next pool play game later in the day, taking their record to 1-1. Down 1-0 in the fourth frame, Nick Rogowski (Woodbridge, Catholic U.) doubled home two runs, part of a four-run Woodbridge inning. Team Virginia wouldn't look back as the battery of Brian Wirth and Justin Petock limited the damage and preserved the win.
With the way the pool played out, the Flatlanders needed a win in their final game vs. Tennessee to advance to semis. Woodbridge came through with a no-doubt, overwhelming effort dominating the representatives of the "Volunteer State" by a score of 11-1. The pitching effort of Shawn Shaklee, Brian Wirth, and Justin Petock shut down Tennessee's offense. On offense, Antonio Barrett had a three-run double, highlighting a fourth inning that saw five Woodbridge runners cross the plate. With the win, the Flatlanders bought themselves a Monday night date with South Carolina, a game that would decide who went to the finals.
In the semifinal, Team Virginia's run finally came to end with a 4-3 loss the South Carolina. Nick Rogowski threw six strong innings, yielding the four earned runs. Much like the War Between the States, South Carolina drew first blood, scoring two runs off solo homers in the first and third innings, respectively. Third baseman Antonio Barrett hit a three-run shot of his own to give Woodbridge a 3-2 lead in the fourth, but it would not stand up. South Carolina pushed across one run in the fifth and one in the sixth to steal a 4-3 victory and a berth in the finals. The next day, the South Carolinians defeated Florida 7-5 in the final, securing a trip to the Big League World Series in Easley, S.C. The World Series begins July 28.