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Sumter Dixie Junior Boys all-star team honored for winning World Series title

By DENNIS BRUNSON dennis@theitem.com
Posted 8/9/19

The Sumter 13-year-old all-star baseball team that won the Dixie Junior Boys World Series on Wednesday in Aiken dominated the event, to say the least.

In rolling through the 12-team tournament undefeated in six games, Sumter outscored the …

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Sumter Dixie Junior Boys all-star team honored for winning World Series title

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The Sumter 13-year-old all-star baseball team that won the Dixie Junior Boys World Series on Wednesday in Aiken dominated the event, to say the least.

In rolling through the 12-team tournament undefeated in six games, Sumter outscored the opposition 65-16 and batted .418 as a team.

However, at the celebration of the team's championship on Thursday on the steps of Patriot Hall, there wasn't any bravado for a group of young men who were so dominant. Instead, they were simply enjoying the moment.

"It's just so satisfying to win this," said Clark Kinney, who starred both at the plate and on the mound. "All of the hard work we put in to this as a team, for all of us to come together and do this was great."

"It's just a great feeling to bring the championship home," said Sean Rouse, also a force at the plate. "For us to win this is really something. I believe it's all in God's plan."

For Ben Reynolds, who picked up a couple of wins on the mound, it was something of a surprise.

"I wasn't sure if we could win it," Reynolds said. "I thought we could get there, but I wasn't 100% sure we could win it."

Win it they did though and, as mentioned earlier in convincing fashion.

"We hit up and down the lineup," said head coach Byron Kinney. "When you hit like we did and when the pitching came through like it did, we knew we had a good chance."

Clark Kinney and Reynolds both won two games, while Chase Denton and Jes Schwedler each picked up a win. Denton also picked up a save in relief of Kinney in Sumter's closest game, a 7-5 win over Dyersburg, Tennessee.

Kinney led the team in hitting with a .722 batting average, while Rouse batted .500 from the leadoff spot and scored 10 runs. Hayden Mims hit .471, Schwedler .455, and Reynolds and Bryson Hodge both hit .400.

Kinney had a huge tournament beyond the batting average. He had 17 runs batted in with 11 of the RBI via two grand slam home runs and a 3-run homer. He also scored 12 runs.

"I just kind of got on a roll," the younger Kinney said. "My teammates did a great job backing me up because I was able to come up with people on base, and I was able to drive in some runs."

The championship was the fifth for Sumter in the various Dixie World Series age groups. Other championships came in 2006, '07, '08 and '12.

Sumter Recreation and Parks Department Director Phil Parnell has been there for each of them, and he knows it isn't an easy task.

"Winning a World Series is something very, very hard to do," Parnell told the team, family, friends and well-wishers gathered outside Patriot Hall. "You have to have a great group of players and coaches, and above all else, a great group of parents all pulling in the same direction.

"This is a big accomplishment, something that you'll never forget. These players will take this with them the rest of their lives."

Sumter County Councilman Charles Edens congratulated the team for two reasons.

"We are so proud of you for not only winning the World Series, but for representing us, Sumter County, the way that you did."

In speaking to the crowd, Coach Kinney mentioned that after the team won the state tournament in Bluffton "we were told we were no longer called Sumter but South Carolina."

As the team participated in the ceremony, the players had on their South Carolina jerseys. However, with the team back home with the championship trophy in tow, Coach Kinney asked the players who they were. They yelled "Sumter" and pulled off their state jerseys to display the Sumter jerseys they wore in the state tournament.

Coach Kinney pointed out that the team was made up of B team players from Sumter High School, Lakewood High, Wilson and Laurence Manning Academy.

"Those coaches did a great job because when we got them they were fundamentally sound," he said. "They contributed greatly to the success of this team.

"Also all of the rec coaches who put in the time to work with them. These kids worked hard every time they were on the field."