WASHINGTON, N.C. — It was a great season for the Ashe All-Stars 8U baseball team, finishing the year with a 26-10 overall record and in the top eight of all 8U teams in the state.
The team traveled to Washington, North Carolina for the state championship tournament that began on July 30.
A total of 16 8U teams qualified for the double elimination tournament.
In game one, Ashe was dealt an early blow with a 5-3 loss to the host team, putting the All-Stars in the losers bracket.
In the second game, Ashe bounced back to eliminate Parkwood by a 6-1 score.
Game three featured Ashe against East Chatham, a wild game from the start.
The All-Stars held an 8-6 lead at the end of five before East Chatham rallied to take a 9-8 lead in the sixth inning.
In the bottom of the sixth, Ashe tied the score at 9-9.
East Chatham had Ashe’s backs against the wall, scoring three runs in the top of the seventh to take a 12-9 lead.
With just three outs left in their tournament lives, the All-Star players pulled one more rally together. Hayden Goodman led off with a single and advanced to second on an error. Drew Cheek singled and Tucker Roten followed that up with a single to load the bases.
Eli Gilley knocked in a run with a hit to make the score 12-10 with the bases still loaded.
With nobody out, Brodie Burgess slammed a double to the fence that cleared the bases, giving Ashe the walk-off victory.
Saturday marked the end of the road for Ashe with a 9-1 loss to a team from Benson.
Overall, the All-Stars finished in the top eight in the state, better than any other team in Ashe’s district.
The All-Stars played in a total of nine tournaments this summer with three championships and three runner-up finishes.
“It was a blessing to be involved with this group. The support from the community, our fans and our families was overwhelming,” said Coach Andy Cheek. “These players represented Ashe County very well. They played with passion, grit, integrity and great sportsmanship. These boys will do great things in the future and I’m so proud of them.”
Coach Matt Peters echoed much of the same sentiments as Coach Cheek, saying that he would catch himself in awe of the things these kids were doing on the field at such a young age.
“Ashe County was well represented by these young men, with several comments and praise given by opposing coaches and fans everywhere we played this year,” said Peters. “The sky is the limit, and I look forward to watching this group grow in the future. It’s exciting. Thank you to all the parents, grandparents and community for making this year a successful and memorable baseball season.”
Coach Joey Burgess, whose son drove in the game-winning runs in the team’s third game, viewed this season and team as a great opportunity and example to play hard and teach life lessons.
“I have always approached coaching as teaching life lessons through a sport. Development of young people into better people and hopefully planting a seed or helping nurture their Christian life. I think I was as much the student as one of the teachers this season,” said Burgess. “Through the avenue of a game I’ve really started to love, I saw kids and adults deal with issues, make decisions and grow in maturity through the love for one another. I am a better man thanks to God’s love, my wife and my fellow coaches and their wives, and these boys and their families. The support from these families and Ashe County was amazing. These kids represented our program and our county very well.”
Team members this season were: Drew Cheek, Tucker Roten, Eli Gilley, Brodie Burgess, Brent Mash, Kye Pennington, Bryce Peters, Ryder Phipps, Elliott Cox, Jordan Tibbs, Caleb Williams and Hayden Goodman.
Nathan Ham can be reached at 336-846-7164 or followed on Twitter @NathanHam87