North Charleston’s Dixie baseball program continued to dominate in statewide competition, winning the state championships in both the Majors and Pre-Majors state tournaments at Collins Park on Monday.
The Majors team, comprised of 17-to-19-year-old players, won its 15th state title since 1999 with a 10-5 win over Gaston. North Charleston advances to the World Series in Ozark, Alabama, on July 30. North Charleston has won the last two World Series titles.
“Gaston was a good team, probably one of the better teams we’ve ever played in a state tournament,” North Charleston coach Kenny Wilkinson said. “Our team really hit the ball well the last two days. I was honestly a little worried about this team going into this tournament, but we put it all together the last three days. It was a good, solid team effort.”
Playing at 10 a.m., North Charleston used a six-run fourth inning to pull away from Gaston. The big blow was a bases-loaded bloop double to short left by Josh Litchfield with two outs, breaking a 2-2 tie.
After an infield RBI single by Jordan Merritt made it 5-2, Justin Walker, named the game’s most valuable player, followed with a three-run double to deep center, upping the lead to 8-2. Merritt added an RBI double in the sixth.
An RBI single by Morgan Melendez gave North Charleston a 1-0 lead in the second. Aaron Miller’s home run off the scoreboard in left pushed the advantage to 2-0 in the third, but Gaston rallied with two runs in the bottom of the inning to tie the score.
Eddie Hiott earned the win for North Charleston, allowing four runs in six innings of work.
“Eddie wasn’t as sharp today, but he’s a competitor and he will give us a good outing pretty much every time,” Wilkinson said.
The Pre-Majors team of players aged 15-17 played in the afternoon and defeated the team from Pageland, 15-3, in a game shortened to four innings. It was the second straight state title for North Charleston in the division.
Justin Lifsey had four RBIs and Jalen Vasquez added three more as the North Charleston team scored early and often. A three-run first inning set the early pace, but Pageland scored two runs in the top of the second.
North Charleston answered with an eight-run second inning, on seven hits, with Kyle Davis and Vasquez each contributing two-run singles in the breakout inning.
North Charleston added three runs on two more hits in the third, and Lifsey closed out the game with his game-winning single to center. North Charleston finished the game with 12 hits.
“We really came out strong offensively, and that was good to see because we had not put a really solid game together before today,” coach Jamie Rabon said. “This is a good group of guys. We have a small margin of error, but if we execute on the mound and put some balls in play, we have a chance to be pretty good.”
The Pre-Majors team will participate in the World Series in Guntersville, Alabama, beginning on July 30.
North Charleston’s 15-U team also won the state championship and will begin play in the first-ever 15-U Dixie World Series on Thursday in Ozark, Alabama.