Big League World Series brings baseball to Easley for 14th year

By Ben Robinson
Staff Reporter


7-23 Page 1B.inddWith first pitch set for this afternoon, the Big League World Series returns to Easley for the 14th year in a row to determine best 16-18-year-old baseball team in the world.

The field for the tournament, held at the J.B. “Red” Owens Complex, was finalized over the last week as regional tournaments wrapped up around the U.S. and the world.

The host team, S.C. District 1, is one of two teams that received an automatic bid into the tournament.

Trying to win its first series crown since 2007, the host team will feature three county players in Daniel’s Christian Cain and Easley’s Brandon Hood and Casey Woody.

Others on the team include Grayson Bailes (Laurens), Zach Biggers (Walhalla), Jacob Childress (Ninety-Six), Doug Gressly (Wren), Blake Holliday (Belton-Honea Path), Adam Hill (T.L. Hanna), Thomas Jones (Laurens), Tanner Mack (Wren), Matthew Mulkey (Emerald), Sheldon Reed (Emerald), Dax Roper (Belton-Honea Path), Cody Smiley (Laurens), Dylan Southerland (Belton-Honea Path) and L.T. Tolbert (Wren).

In addition to the host squad, the team from Puerto Rico earned an automatic berth in the tournament. The Puerto Rican team alternates with Mexico in receiving an automatic bid.

In the years when Mexico does not receive the automatic bid, the Mexican team still has the chance to earn a bid by winning the Latin American tournament. This year, however, in a tournament held in Guatemala City, Guatemala, Venezuela defeated the home team to earn a spot in this year’s series. Venezuela has never won the series in Easley, but has advanced to the championship game twice in the last three years, including a loss last year to the U.S. Southeast team.

Other international entries into this year’s tournament are the Netherlands, representing Europe and Africa, Chinese Taipei, representing Asia-Pacific and Quebec, representing Canada.

In the United States, Thousand Oaks, Calif., will return as the U.S. West representative after beating Hawaii, 7-2, in the finals of a regional tournament in Bremerton, Wash.

The team representing Oak Ridge Woodlands Area Little League (ORWALL) in Texas will represent the U.S. Southwest in Easley after defeating the host team, 8-7, in the finals of the tournament in LaVernia, Texas.

In the U.S. Southeast tournament held in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., Florida District 12 defeated Georgia, 15-1.

Pennsylvania District 28 won the U.S. East spot after defeating the host team in the finals of a regional tournament held in Dover, Del.

The host team of the U.S. Central tournament in Wyoming, Mich., defeated Illinois, 10-1, to claim the final spot in the Big League World Series.

Last year’s champion, S.C. District 7, failed to earn a spot in this year’s tournament, so a new champion will definitely be crowned in this year’s tournament.

The teams will be separated into two pools — U.S. and international — and the teams with the two best records in each will square off in the semifinals on Tuesday with the winners scheduled to battle for the world series title live on ESPN at 6:30 p.m. next Wednesday.