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Meridian faces Mobile today

By By Jami Leabow / special to The Star
Aug. 22, 2002
CLIFTON PARK, N.Y. It will be an all-South elimination game today in the Babe Ruth 14-year-old World Series when the Meridian All-Stars meet Mobile.
Meridian will take the field at 4:30 p.m. , with the winner earning the right to advance to the semifinals on Friday against Hazel Dell Metro (Wash.).
On Wednesday, their day off from competition after finishing 2-2 in pool play, Meridian players declared themselves set to take on Mobile. "We're ready," said outfielder Justin Baylor. "We watched them a little bit. They can be beat."
Mobile finished pool play at 3-1, in second place in the American division. Meridian finished in third place in the National division.
To earn the second seed, Mobile beat Guilderland (N.Y.) 3-2; Harris Township (Ind.) 9-5; and Leominster (Mass.) 7-1. Mobile lost to Hazel Dell Metro, winners of the 2001 Babe Ruth 13-year-old World Series, 6-1.
Mobile is lead by first baseman Adam Vickrey, who has hit two home runs in the series, including a game-winner against Guilderland. Star third baseman D.J. Garland said he will not play Thursday. He suffered a torn muscle in his left hip against Leominster earlier in the week.
Meridian is an experienced team. It played in the World Series for 13-year-olds last year, losing in the semifinals to Utah. Ricky Gardner remembers the feeling.
But tonight's winner has no easy task against Hazel Dell Metro, which breezed undefeated through the American division. Meridian came into the tournament hoping to meet Hazel Dell Metro, a team the players became friendly with at last year's series. The players could get their wish.
In today's other elimination game, State College (Pa.) which finished pool play at 3-1, will meet Guilderland, which posted a 2-2 record. The winner of that game will play National division winner Tri-Valley (Calif.) on Friday. Tri-Valley is undefeated.
The winners of Friday's two semifinals will play for the national championship Saturday at 10 a.m.