The Southern Indiana Redbirds 12-and-under baseball travel team won the United States Specialty Sports Association World Series July 10-14. The Redbirds went a perfect 6-0, avoiding the losers’ bracket and winning the championship last Sunday. The Redbirds consist of several players from New Albany and Floyd County.
Three home runs powered the Redbirds to an 8-7 victory in six innings against the Bluegrass Hackers from Shelbyville, Ky., in the title game.
Noah Franklin hit a solo bomb in the second inning to give the Redbirds their first run of the game. Devyn Rivers followed with his own solo shot in the third, followed by a two-run blast from Brendan Brainard.
In the fourth inning James Crockett and Christian Graf both came up big with timely hitting to plate another four runs, giving the Redbirds an 8-5 lead.
The Hackers rallied in the top of the fifth, scoring two more to tighten the game to 8-7.
But Redbirds’ pitcher Steven Thom entered the game in relief to shut the Hackers down and record the save. Thom pitched a perfect two innings, recording six outs with no hits, no runs, no walks and no errors. He struck out the last three batters he faced to seal the victory.
Thom was helped out by great defense when a fly ball to right field was caught by Crockett. Crockett then fired the ball home to Graf, the Redbirds’ catcher, who made a great catch and tag to complete the double play on the runner tagging from third base.
“It was the defensive play of the game,” Redbirds’ manager Joe Thom said about doubling up the Hackers. “They had runners on second and third with one out when Steven entered the game. We were hoping for a couple of groundballs or strikeouts to get us out of a jam.
But James and Christian came through with the double play to get us out of the inning. We work on ‘cut 4’s’ a lot during the week at practice. It was good to see that our preparation paid off”.
The Redbirds hammered the ball all week, scoring a total of 63 runs in six games. Superb pitching and great defense held the Redbird opponents to a meager 17 hits for the entire tournament, with a team earned-run average of only 2.36 for the week.
“Our kids gave up their 12-year-old year of Little League to focus on winning a World Series,” said Joe Thom. “We have stayed focused all season with our eye on the prize. Everything we did in every practice and game was intended to prepare us for this week. I cannot begin to tell you how proud I am of all of our boys. Every single one of them contributed in one way or another in every game. They worked hard all season, and I’m really happy that our goal was realized.”
The Southern Indiana Redbirds is a non-profit organization started by Willie Lozado, who coaches the Redbirds’ 13-and-under team.
The 12-and-under team coaching staff consists of Joe Thom and assistant coaches Nic Genakos, Kirstan Haub and Bobby Brainard. The Redbirds are currently ranked fourth in the nation for the 12-and-under AA division of USSSA.