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After this group of Sumter County baseball players captured its second consecutive state title, Dixie Boys director Rick Lacey approached them in left field.
"You're done with Sumter now," he told them. "You've turned into Team South Carolina."
Sumter County again will represent the state after defeating Midland 13-7 on Thursday at Burton Wells Park in the final of the Dixie Boys state tournament. The champions travel next month to the Dixie Boys World Series in Covington, Ga. The group reached the Junior Boys World Series as 13-year-olds, going 1-2 in Seneca.
With previous experience, a better showing is the goal.
First, Sumter County had to refocus after Midland scored two late runs to swipe Thursday's first game, 4-3, and force another. Defense was an issue in the early game, Sumter pitcher Brandon Spittle said, and the team wasn't hitting consistently.
But after a pep talk between games, the chatter returned.
"We were all in it, yelling and stuff from the dugout," Spittle said. "From there, we just kind of stayed in it."
Tied 4-4 headed into the seventh inning of the decisive game, Sumter poured it on Midland's fading pitching. The nine-run inning ensured there would not be another Midland rally.
"Guys, that's the way to battle back," Sumter coach Scott Spittle told his team. "They finally left us an opening, and we took advantage. They ran out of pitching."
Midland cycled through four pitchers after starter Cam Brown led them into the seventh. Sumter County came to the plate 13 times.
Sumter starter Ed McMillan pitched three innings without an earned run. Brandon Spittle threw three strong innings of relief.
At the end of the six-day tournament, after Midland fought back from the loser's bracket, Sumter had the stronger pitching at the finish.
"We knew we wanted to be the better team," said Sumter County third baseman Ryan Taylor, who drove in two runs. "We hurt ourselves the first game. We finally started hitting the ball."
Sumter County players dogpiled in the infield when the final out was recorded and lined up to shake Midland players' hands and receive their trophies. Pitcures were next, and Sumter County knew the drill, waiting out a sea of flashes and recreating favorite poses from their last championship.
"We had a lot of fun last year," Brandon Spittle said. "But this year, we're trying to win this thing."
Sumter County 002 020 9 -- 13 12 6
Midland 101 020 3 -- 7 5 4
WP: Brandon Spittle 3 IP,1 R, 1 ER, 1 H, 1 BB
Top Hitters: Sumter-- John Ballard 2 for 3, RBI, 3 R; Sam Watford 2 for 3, BB, RBI. Midland-- Cam Brown 2 for 2, HBP, SB, RBI.