Originally created 08/06/99

Columbia County claims Dixie crown



EULESS, Texas -- Justin Sheppard slammed a one-out single and drove in Fernando Mickens in the bottom of the seventh inning, lifting Columbia County to a 6-5 victory over Louisiana for the Dixie Pre-Majors World Series championship Thursday night.

Louisiana rallied for five runs in the sixth and seventh innings to tie the game when the Georgians "got a little bit careless," coach Taylor Brooks said.

He brought in Bradley Key, who hadn't pitched an out during the series, in relief of Steve Dunham in the seventh inning. Key struck out the Louisiana batter with two out and the go-ahead run at third.

Columbia County scored five runs in the first two innings.

In the first, Mickens walked and stole second, getting hit in the back of the head by the baseball in the process to reach third. Key's groundout brought in Mickens.

Chad Thornhill and Mickens each had two-run singles in the second inning, but neither team was able to score until the last two innings.

"We didn't have many strikeouts, but our pitchers were able to get the ball put into play," said Brooks.

Louisiana began the seventh against Dunham, who had relieved starter Jordan Belcher in the fifth.

"They hit a seven-foot dribbler that nobody was able to get to and that was followed by a walk and a single that loaded the bases," the coach said. "We had a passed ball for one run, hit another and then a wild pitch and another passed ball. We just lost our concentration, but Bradley was able to get that clutch strikeout."

Had Louisiana won, the Cajuns would have had to play Columbia County, who was unbeaten in the series. Columbia County had blanked Louisiana 9-0 earlier.

The series victory is the first since 1996 when a Columbia County team won the Dixie Majors title, Brooks said.

The coach is flying in from Texas today to take a teacher's certification test. The team isn't due to arrive until Saturday about 6 p.m., he said.

Louisiana -- 000 000 14 -- 5 10 4

Columbia County -- 140 000 01 -- 6 8 2

Jordan Belcher, Steven Dunham (5), Bradley Key (W) (7) and Bob Hatcher, Parker Dye (5). Caire, Matt (L) (7) and Matherne, Bryan (7). 2B -- Jon Gros(L), Doug Friloux (L).

Leading hitters: Columbia, Fernando Mickens 2-4, Chad Thornhill 2-4, 2 RBI; Justin Sheppard 3-3. Louisiana, Gros 2-3, Matherne 2-3, Friloux 2-3.