GameOn Sports World Series concludes in Oxford

Jul. 22, 2013 @ 09:58 PM

Four years ago, AAU baseball had become a thing of the past around the state.

Oxford has been at the forefront of efforts to revive the organization since then. The city began hosting tournaments in the fall of 2009. On Sunday, the N.C. GameOn Sports World Series wrapped up play, marking its second consecutive year in Oxford.

Travis Hinson, the AAU baseball director for the central part of the state, said the World Series is the most prestigious event of the summer for AAU teams.

“This is the World Series,” said Hinson. “This is the big grand finale for the summer.”

Five age groups, ranging from 8-and-under to 13-and-under, participated in the event with games played at Granville Athletic Park and the Diamonds at Oxford Park. Teams from Advance, Elizabeth City, Wake Forest, Huntersville, and Raleigh claimed championships.

Hinson, monitoring the Granville Athletic Park fields Sunday, said he expects the event to return to Oxford next year, adding that AAU baseball has seen a resurgence in the Oxford and Clemmons area especially. 

“For some reason, it’s taken off here,” Hinson said of Oxford. “It took off here before it took off anywhere else.”

More than 40 teams descended on the area for the tournament that kicked off Wednesday with skills competitions and an opening ceremony. Most teams played six to eight games throughout the competition. 

“From what I was told, some of the teams couldn’t find a hotel in Oxford,” Hinson said of the economic impact. “So that means they filled up every hotel here. Plus a lot of teams ended up going to Henderson. I think it had a good impact on the economy throughout.”

Dale Edwards’ Carolina Thunder team was one of three Oxford squads participating in the event along with the 12-and-under Wildcats and 11-and-under Dirt Bags. The Thunder is comprised of 11-and-under players, but competed in the 12-and-under division for this tournament.

The Thunder lost to the Orange County Copperheads in the championship game of the Silver Bracket. Elizabeth City’s Carolina Titans won the Gold Bracket with a 10-2 win over the East Wake Warriors.

“Probably a little bit under our expectations, but not far from where we were aiming for,” said Edwards. “All in all we thought it was a good weekend and I thought my kids played with a lot of heart.”

Edwards’ team played in 13 tournaments during the spring/summer season and will take a break before fall play starts in about six weeks. He said he was glad to see a smaller city be able to host the World Series.

“It’s good for the economy and it’s good for the people,” said Edwards. “It’s great to see people come to a small town versus a Charlotte or Greensboro or Raleigh or Cary area. It’s neat for a small town to get to see the baseball world come to it.”

Shawn Freeman’s 8-and-under Davidson County Bomb Squad might have one more tournament to play. The team is considering entering a Greensboro tournament before summer play ends.

The Bomb Squad fell to the North Wake Rockets in the 8-and-under championship after the two sides played each other three times Sunday. Two of the games were decided by one run, including an extra-inning win for Davidson County.

Freeman said the people of Oxford were great hosts and complimented the tournament hands.

“The trophy presentation, the guys that put this on were top notch,” he said. “They have fun with the kids. They make the kids feel special. The umpires — you’re always going to have calls that don’t go your way — but they knew the rules. And that’s all I ever ask for.”

The Advance-based Davie County Storm claimed the 13-and-under title with an 8-5 win over the Riptides of Raleigh. The Wake Forest Patriots held off a rally from the Rock City Rebels of Roxboro, winning 11-7 in the 11-and-under age group and the Carolina Hitmen of Huntersville finished on top in 10-and-under play, besting the Triangle Tribe 5-2 in the championship match.

Contact the writer at kholtzman@hendersondispatch.com.