Meridian hosts two Babe Ruth tourneys

By By Will Bardwell / staff writer
July 9, 2004
Meridian will host two youth baseball tournaments this weekend with trips to regional competitions on the line.
The Babe Ruth League's 13-year-old tournament and 14-year-old tournament will be held at the Q.V. Sykes baseball complex beginning this morning. Both events will use a double-elimination format.
"It's our second year in a row to host," said tournament director Jerry Dean. "We've got a real nice field here, so we like to use it."
Both tournament fields consist of six All-Star teams from across the state, each of which advanced to the state tournament by winning at the district level. As hosts, both Meridian teams earned automatic berths in the tournaments.
Columbus and Orange Grove open the 13-year-old tournament today at 9 a.m., while Long Beach and Clinton will clash at 10 a.m. to open the 14-year-old tournament.
The two Meridian squads will play in the second games of their respective tournaments. The 13-year-old Meridian All-Stars will face Helena at noon, and the 14-year-old locals will take on Florence at 1 p.m.
The tourney openers will be one of the first games the Meridian All-Star teams have played together. Steve
Galistel, the 14-year-old team's head coach, said a month of rain across Mississippi has cut into his team's schedule.
"We've played two games," Galistel said. "The rain has really killed us as far as playing and practicing. But in the practices we have had, the kids have worked hard. I couldn't ask for a better group of kids."
Rain has also played havoc with the 13-year-old squad, which has won three of the four games it has played together.
Though inexperience is an obvious disadvantage, 13-year-old All-Stars coach Donovan Hughes said Meridian may have an edge all to itself.
"There's probably a little bit of an advantage playing on a home field," Hughes said. "If there's an edge to be had, I hope that's our edge. But sometimes when you're on the road, you're more focused because you're there for a purpose."
Galistel and Hughes both agree that their teams will have to overcome inexperience and quickly develop consistency out of their pitching rotations, which will likely be relied upon heavily.
A clean sweep through either tournament would only require appearances by four starting pitchers. On the other hand, going through the losers' bracket would take six games to win the tournament.
"Our pitching is kind of thin," Galistel said. "If we fall into the losers' bracket, it could be tough. But if we stay in the winners' bracket, we'll have one game Saturday and one Sunday, and that would be good."

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